By Ezra Ekman
If you are attending college, you are most likely under the age of 30, and your voice is the least likely to be heard. The issues that matter most to you may, instead, be decided by others. But you can change that if you register to vote on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website between now and June 26. Then vote in the primaries held on June 26. Yes, you can register and vote on the same day.
Historically, younger voters have held one of the smallest percentage of voters overall. Census.gov shows that voters 45 and older have consistently held the highest rate of voting (71 percent) since 1980. By contrast, voters under 30 only vote, on average, 46.4 percent of the time. The result is that the interests of voters under 30 are vastly underrepresented by Congress and our state officials. This also means the issues most important to voters under 30 are the least likely to be supported.
But that can change this year! You can make a difference by casting your ballot in the primaries on June 26 to determine who will be governor for the state of Colorado and decide on specific ballot measures.
Some of the issues state governors can affect include:
- Funding for education, including full-day kindergarten and preschool
- Broadband infrastructure and protections for net neutrality
- Gun legislation
- Environmental protections
- Minimum wage, employee protections and the economy
Some of the measures on the ballot include:
- A repeal of an exception to the ban of slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime
- Shortening income tax forms and removing criminal penalties for tax violations
- Increasing the minimum distance for oil, gas and fracking from playgrounds, parks and open spaces (from 500 feet to 2,500 feet)
- Requiring easily-accessible price lists for healthcare services from healthcare providers
- Reducing the maximum interest rate on payday loans (from 45 percent + 7.5 percent over $300 + fees to 36 percent maximum)
- Allowing larger aggregate donations to candidates when a single candidate receives a single donation over $1 million
Your political affiliation, who you plan to vote for or issues important to you don’t impact the importance of your vote. What matters is that you do vote. Your voice matters. Your opinion and participation matters. If you don’t vote, you give up the right to your opinions and desires to those who do vote, because the people who vote are the people who decide. If you want to decide, you need to vote.
Don’t wait. You can register to vote in just a few minutes on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website. The earlier you register, the less likelihood you have of a mix-up at the voting booths on June 26. But if you can’t register until the day of the vote, you can still do so at your polling location.
Speaking of polling locations, all general, primary, odd-year, coordinated, recall and congressional vacancy elections are now conducted by mail ballot. If you were registered to vote prior to this year, your ballot should have been mailed to you already. However, if you haven’t received your ballot or you would prefer to vote at a polling location, you can find your voting location by filling out this short form and then clicking the “In Person Voting” tab on the next page. You can also view when your ballot was mailed by clicking on “Ballot Information.”
So register, and then get out and vote! Your voice is the most under-represented, yet can be the most powerful. If you don’t, your voice will be silent, and others will make your decisions for you. But if you do, you can help decide the future of Colorado.