Don't Just Talk About Change: Register to Vote

03/27/2012 01:40 pm ET | Updated May 27, 2012

By Tolu Taiwo

Not to toot my own horn, but I usually consider myself a model citizen of every world I belong to.

And lately I've been getting even more in touch with the community by volunteering at the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club. Plus, I'm always advocating for us as students to get out and do good in the world, so I feel like somewhere, somehow, I've accumulated enough karma points to buy myself a unicorn in heaven.

However, I've been keeping a deep, dark secret from all of you. In fact, I've kind of buried this deep in my subconscious for a while, and only recently, with all the Obama and Romney and Santorum talk, have I pulled it out to face the ugly truth about myself.

I'm not politically perfect. In fact, I'm far from it. In the three years since my 18th birthday, I have yet to register to vote. My high school political science teacher yelled at me, people on the Quad yelled at me and my mother scolded me -- but today I've finally manned up and registered to vote.

Yes, the loathing you feel toward me is normal. I still kind of want to punch myself in the mouth.

I was originally going to write a column breaking down the reasons why college kids, such as myself, don't vote. I'm not going to get into the details too much, because they are embarrassing, and they may make you hate me even more than you probably already do. Let's just say it had to do with the fact that I've been busy. And I couldn't submit it online, and I hate mailing things in.

But when I thought about it, there wasn't really an excuse. I called myself a smart member of the political realm (I'm a political science minor, for goodness sakes!), and I like to flaunt my opinions around. But I wasn't taking the time to register for one of the most important yet simple ways to get my opinion around. As I wrote out my opinions in column format, I saw that all of them were nonsense. I had to just do it.

What also clinched it for me today was the fact that there are students out there that have legitimate voting problems. And I'm not even talking about third-world countries. I'm talking about the kids who can't seem to vote because the man is keeping them down.

In some states, officials are making it harder for students with laws that prevent students with an out-of-state license from voting. According to the New York Times article "Keeping College Students From the Polls," some government officials feel our age demographic is "'foolish' and tends to 'vote their feelings' because they lack life experience."

Excuse me. But I didn't remember the last time that "being a college student" meant we were given more of an unreasonable level of feeling than adults.

I thought about all of those factors. All of the kids our age that are discouraged to vote in other states. All of the age and wisdom we've accumulated over the 19, 20 or 21 years of our lives. It's not a cliché, it's not a joke. We're smart. We're ready. We can make the right decision. We can start that wave of change, whether we are Republicans, Democrats, Independents or Whigs.

I chose to register to vote and mail in my ballot today because I didn't want to continue being that girl who talks about change and service -- but doesn't act on it. Now, I'm not trying to twist anyone's arm who legitimately doesn't want to vote. But if you've been "meaning to do it" or "will get to it later," when you have time, stop.

If you really want to do it, and believe it'll help out society, then don't pull a Tolu. Just do it.

This post was originally published in The Daily Illini.