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In the so-called Information Age we live in, the importance of the conception and expression of identity has become even more pronounced and appealing. This picture of an individual who stands out against a myriad of others is one that modern culture has come to embrace.

On the other hand, individuals still find themselves drawn to the collective, which contains individuals who share similar identities. There are then the issues involved with different individuals and collectives living together, determining which issues are the most prevalent and ensuring everyone is represented.

This determination requires participation from those involved, and in a perfect system, individuals will keep in mind the different issues and make a rational, educated choice for their elected official or ballot measure.

“Rational” and “educated,” unfortunately, are not always attached to politics.
Political party allegiance is enough of an incentive for many to hit the polls. There will be those who vote for the Romney and Ryan ticket and mark everything “Republican” on their ballots. On the flip side, there will be those who vote to reelect the president and mark everything “Democrat.”
And there will be those who will vote for a relatively obscure third or fourth-party candidate and their party because the former two options aren’t good enough.

Among all those groups, there will be individuals who vote because of their personal beliefs or because of a particular social or economic issue. And more power to them, at least they’re participating in the voting process and utilizing their right to express themselves, even if it is just for the sake of one issue. Several groups with different interests have swung results in their favor with their fervor.

Think how much an impact an educated, actively engaged constituency of voters would have in contrast. Many come to the polls with only a couple issues or reasons to vote, but college students live in communities that encourage discussing and listening to various issues.

Students during election seasons have an advantage and opportunity that many do not and cannot enjoy — we are immersed in a community that encourages debate and free speech, along with discussions of all relevant issues.
The University of California in particular has been a forum for countless political and social debates throughout its history. It rightly has been, as it has seen students from various socio-economic backgrounds and racial and ethnic identities pass through.

And UC students should be educated to some extent if they’ve managed to be accepted into their respective universities. We have the ability to cast an informed vote on issues that directly affect our lives as students, so why aren’t we representing this educated voter constituency?

We pay to attend and be a part of it. And we might end up paying a lot more by the spring quarter and on if one of the measures on this year’s ballot fails to pass.

If Proposition 30 is the one issue that brings students to participate in the voting process, then so be it. Prop 30 will likely be the most immediate issue for students. If we don’t vote on this issue alone, we as a student population could suffer.

Still, there are several other ballot measures that affect our social, political and economic spheres, however directly or indirectly. Though the national presidential election may be more influenced by electoral colleges, our vote has a larger impact when it comes to statewide issues that can more directly affect us.

As much as many of us find most political science majors a bit loud, it is certainly more frustrating to hear those who remain apathetic to all things political because “their votes won’t matter.” Your voices DO count and there are ways to make sure that it does. Whether you sign up on Ring Road or go online to registertovote.ca.gov, registering to vote is easy and important.

There is no political system, nor has there ever been one, that has managed to perfectly reconcile individual and collective representation. What we have seen, though, is the impact of a few votes, notably with the 2000 presidential election and most recently with the Middle Class Scholarship Act, which failed to pass the California Senate with a required two-thirds majority.

We as students should be a part of the population that decides the fate of measures on the ballot during this election.
Every vote does matter, to some extent. Think, then, of how much more an influence a smart and well-intentioned vote can have.

Send all comments to opinion@newuniversity.org. Please include your year, name and major.

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