One voice, one power

As we gear up for election season, exercise your right as a citizen

You’ve probably already seen the ads circulating your televisions, radios and newspapers.

It’s that time of year again, when political ads dominate the mediums we are consuming for reasons other than to hear Wisconsin incumbent Gov. Scott Walker talk about how he has moved Wisconsin to third in the country in annual job growth, while his Democratic challenger, Mary Burke, claims he is dead last in the same category.

And when you’re a college student trying to watch The Big Bang Theory or the unfortunate implosion of Badgers’ quarterback Tanner McEvoy, getting a bunch of contradicting political statements thrown in your face might drive whatever interest you had straight off the road.

But here’s the harsh reality: you need to pay attention, especially since you’re a college student.

In the 2012 presidential election, our demographic, which is clumped from ages 18-24, was dead last in voter turnout.

According to the Census Bureau, 41.2 percent of Americans in this particular demographic voted, which was a seven percent decrease from the 2008 election.

And it’s something I don’t quite get. When you turn 16, you count down the days until you get your driver’s license, which seems to be a rite of passage for every young American. And apparently something happens when you turn 21 that people get excited about, I just can’t quite put my finger on it.

So why is it when you turn 18, you don’t jump at your chance to vote? It’s the first time you can truly have a say in decision-making process.

Yes, I get it. In 2010, a grand total of 2,133,244 Wisconsin residents went to a polling place to fill in the arrow for either Walker or Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett for governor.

It’s a big number, so how can one vote make a difference? Well just think of it this way. According to a study by, about 24 percent of voters in this age group across the country showed up to the polls for their state’s governor race.

In Wisconsin, Walker took 52.6 percent of the votes to bring home a victory for the Republican Party. But 75 percent of eligible voters ages 18-24 didn’t vote. In the 2012 presidential election, the people who did vote in this age group voted overwhelmingly Democrat at just more than 60-40, according to the Census Bureau.

So if more people had showed up to the polls, it could have affected an entire governor race.

Whether or not Wisconsin is creating jobs or losing them it is up for you to decide. I am not here to endorse Walker or Burke, I’m here to encourage you to use the power this country has given you not only this fall, but beyond.

There’s a lot going on politically in Eau Claire as well. There’s the Confluence Project, the completion of the UW-Eau Claire Master Plan and numerous other things which will require citizen participation.

So here goes my first word of advice as Editor in Chief to the general student body: get active. Do research, have a conversation with someone and use the most powerful tool you could ever use: your own voice.