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The Blue & Gray Press | August 24, 2019

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Staff editorial: voting affects beyond the election

Every time an election is held, there is a constant barrage of “your vote counts” messages. It is repeatedly stressed the importance of every vote. It can even reach a point where the messages stop seeming like a promotion of civic duty and more like a desperate attempt to garner votes for a specific candidate.

Under all the campaigns and crusades to encourage voting, the fact remains the same: it is important, and every vote does count. Though it may sound cliché to hear how the youth vote is especially important, at the end of Election Day, it really is.

Most pleas to get young people to vote offer the typical statistics. They expound how one-fifth of the U.S. voter population are ages 18 to 29, and youth turnout in midterm elections tends to be half of that in presidential elections.

They present research from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, who reported last year that if Mitt Romney “won half the youth vote, or if young people had stayed home all together,” in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, those 80 electoral votes would have changed the outcome of the 2012 presidential election.

The powerful impact of the youth vote, is obviously understood (especially in the Commonwealth of Virginia), but what is even more important to consider is the impact of voting on the youth.

The number one reason voting is imperative is because, believe it or not, the elected representatives will directly affect you.

This point is no more apparent than in Virginia’s gubernatorial race. Higher education is a major topic in each campaign, and the chosen governor will affect college life more than one may think.

The governor has a direct role in the Commonwealth’s four-year public institutions. They appoint and oversee the Board of Visitors at institutions, as well as implement and regulate education policy and tuition assistance programs.

According to the Washington Post, Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli’s plan for higher education includes increased focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curricula and “tying up to 10 percent of state general fund support for colleges and universities to performance benchmarks, such as the number of STEM degrees conferred, in-state enrollment growth, managerial efficiency and graduation rates.”

Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe argued against Cuccinelli’s tax reform, a plan that would include cutting $1.4 billion of state revenue and block proposed Medicaid expansion.

The new health care reform will put the cost of Medicaid expansion on the federal government for the first three years, according to the Washington Post. McAuliffe stated expansion will create “more demand for cutting-edge health care research, and because it will result in general fund savings, we will have the ability to invest in some of the priorities…like financial aid.”

The gubernatorial election will result in policy that directly affects students’ curriculum and tuition assistance in Virginia’s higher education.

The vital importance of each citizen’s vote is pontificated time and time again, but, while it is a true argument, one should understand that their vote means a great deal to their future. If you do not want to vote because you believe your vote does not matter, than vote simply for that fact that your education does.