Maryland's newly elected Governor Larry Hogan has proposed a budget which will likely lead to a five percent increase in college tuition rates throughout the state. A lack of state funding to public schools, including my own Towson University comes at a time when college students are starting their careers in crippling debt. With an average of about $30,000 in loans, Maryland's college students are enraged that their plight will be exacerbated by Larry Hogan. Actually, let me rephrase that. Maryland's college students would be enraged that their plight will be exacerbated by Larry Hogan... if they knew that tuition is increasing. And who Larry Hogan is.
As a politically active student, I am incredibly frustrated by the lack of political engagement demonstrated by my peers. When asked how they feel about the government, I find young people are very quick to blame politicians for many of their problems. The first question I ask when I hear someone criticizing the government is of course, "Are you registered to vote?" The usual response is a resounding no. When asked why they're not registered to vote the response is almost always "I don't know enough to vote." There is no excuse for this level of political ignorance, especially if you're going to complain about your elected officials and criticize their actions. Politicians like Governor Hogan aren't going to care about when people complain about their governance if those people don't actually take part in the political process and frankly, why should they?
As a conservative Republican, Governor Hogan feels the need to slash the state's budget in the name of fiscal conservativism. In doing so, he'll have to alienate a few groups who will see funding for their priority policies cut. Of all the groups in the state, I cannot think of one that will punish Governor Hogan less than college students. Young people have notoriously low voter turnout numbers in presidential elections, let alone midterm elections (the elections in which Maryland holds its state elections). Personally, I will never understand this.
Voting is the one constitutionally guaranteed way you have to affect change in your government. I can say with 100 percent certainty that if you truly care what your government is doing, you can learn enough to be an educated voter. My certainty is based off of one thing, Google. You don't think you know enough about a candidate or issue? Google it. You don't even know who the candidates are or what the issues are? Google it. The information is there; believe me I know, because I do my research and I do vote.
Young people are certainly the demographic most comfortable using the Internet to attain crucial information; despite this, voter turnout amongst college students is atrocious. The information is right there at their fingertips and they choose to eschew it for absolutely anything else. They have time for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and a myriad of other sites year round, but reading a couple of voter guides once every two years before you vote is apparently too much to ask.
It takes less than 10 minutes to register to vote online (at least in Maryland). The only reasons not vote in this day and age are laziness and apathy. Judging by the way most of my non-voting colleagues talk about the government, they are not apathetic. That narrows it down. If you're not going to go out every two years and send a message to your government officials, don't complain when they act without taking your interests into account.