Critical mass of young voters could change 2012 elections

By Ashley McNeil

On Tuesday Nov. 8 registered voters in Virginia made their way to the polls to cast ballots for the candidates they believe will best represent the commonwealth. The state Legislative elections were important because its results will be a great indicator of how the 2012 presidential election will play out.

For many Hampton University students this was their first time voting in an election. The importance of exercising the right to vote has been the topic of discussion on campus.

Colby Mason, a junior psychology major from Atlanta, was a part of a successful voters registration initiative on campus. “Too many of us are not registered to vote,” he said. “We should vote because it is our responsibility.”

Mason along with several other students worked to bring awareness to the student population about the upcoming election and was successful in registering 30 students.

Joining the list of newly registered voters was Matt Davis. A senior Marine Environmental Science major and Virginia native from Richmond, he said he would vote on Tuesday and couldn’t be more excited: “My parents have always stressed to me the importance of exercising my right to vote.” On Tuesday along with millions of others he voted for his preferred candidates.

Not everyone on campus was registered to vote but there are a few who helped with campaigning on the days leading up to the election. Jada Salahuedin, a junior from Fayetteville, N.C., was unable to register for the absentee ballot in time but still wanted to participate in the election process.

“On Monday I will be helping with campaigning at the elections office in downtown Hampton for the Political Science Department,” she said. “Any involvement is better than no involvement.

“I wish I was able to vote in this election, but I guess I’ll just have to wait until 2012.”

Hampton students are among the 44 million young eligible voters in the country. They are the largest generation in history and 18- to 29-year-olds represent more than one-fifth of the electorate.  Those votes alone can change the face of elections. It is important for us to be involved in the political process because we can greatly influence the issues that are discussed and the candidates who win.

Voting is both a right and an obligation and it is important that young adults always exercise the right to vote.

The writer is a student at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications. Young voters Virginia elections Nov. 8