By Associate Editor Alec Dent
Everyone in the United States is glad the general election is about to be over. Finally, we won’t have to see anymore over the top campaign commercials, listen about how every candidate is going to ruin the country, or watch the nasty woman go head to head with the bad hombre in debate. But students here at UNC Chapel Hill have another reason to rejoice. Thanks to the registration period having already passed, we no longer have to worry about being pestered to register to vote! No more walking to class quickly and avoiding eye contact with activists! No more being asked five, ten, even twenty times a day if we’re registered to vote! No more inane conversations with the same three questions asked every time (1. “Are you registered to vote?” 2. “Are you registered to vote here in Chapel Hill?” 3. “Can I register you locally?”)! As someone who always answered yes to the first one and no to the next two, I am relieved to see those pesky activists go. Not only did they lack a basic understanding of manners (I was in the midst of a phone call one time, phone to my head, clearly busy, and one jumped in front of me to do his spiel), but if I’m being honest, I find it a bit wrong that so much pressure is being applied on college students, not only to vote, but to do it at their college.
We live in an apathetic society. While I absolutely believe it’s important to vote, I’m frightened at the idea of people who don’t care about or even understand politics casting a ballot. We should encourage people to vote, but more importantly we should encourage people to learn the issues before they vote. Our votes carry power, and I don’t like the idea of someone who didn’t care enough to go out of their way to register themselves voting. The registration activists on campus have always rubbed me the wrong way for this reason. If a person truly cares enough, they will register themselves. It’s really not that hard.
But I also take issue with these campus activists trying to get students to register at their university. Sure, it’s more convenient for us that way, but we’re only here four years (usually). Meaning we could elect officials that make changes to the community that we won’t even have to deal with once we leave. Is that really fair to those who actually live in the area and have a stake in the outcome of the election? Additionally, unlike back at home, the vast majority of students in Chapel Hill have no idea the issues facing the community. We don’t know the political history of the area, or the likes, dislikes, and needs of those who reside here. We don’t even know the local candidates!
Being registered to vote is important. But it’s more important to vote knowledgably. Do it back at home where you actually know the candidates, where you actually know the issues, and where you actually have a stake in the election.