Jacob Bell & Alex Dixon – 1851 Staff
A student panel presented a seminar on “Does My Vote Really Matter?” on October 9 in the Rosen Auditorium.
The seminar was comprised of independent and undecided students who presented a combination of political views and facts to support whether student votes count or not. The hour-long panel consisted of Ninwa Hanna, Kevin Lilly, Matthew Evans, Ginna Giraldo, and was moderated by Democrat Sammy Rastagh, a Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology. Tables were set up outside the seminar, allowing students to register to vote in November and receive absentee ballots.
Dozens of students and professors gathered to participate and become educated on what the right to vote means.
“Yes, your vote matters,” Rastagh said to begin the seminar. He continued explaining that “people have died for the right to vote. Eighty-five percent of humanity doesn’t have the same rights as you.”
Evans, the first panelist, talked about voter influence.
“I had no idea about any of the prominent issues, abortion, taxes, social security, overall economy, but my whole family was Republican, so I registered to vote as a Republican.”
From being influenced by right-wing values to educating himself, Evans made the switch to being an Independent.
Lilly, who introduced himself to the audience as a “political atheist” said, “I wasn’t going to vote, I figured, ‘What’s the point?’ Then, my friend reminded me that my ancestors fought for the right for me to vote and it’s something that I should be grateful for.”
However, not swayed by either candidate, Lilly will be siding with third party candidate Gary Johnson. Hanna chose to discuss foreign policy, as it pertains to voting.
Coming from Syria, Hanna said that in her country, “you go to vote and a security guard does it for you.”
Hanna discussed the importance of having a voice and how the right to vote reflects that voice.
“People that don’t vote don’t have a right to complain, because you aren’t using your right as a citizen to represent your opinion. By not voting you forfeit that right to your opinion,” Hanna said.
Giraldo said, “I’m an immigrant. I pay taxes, go to school, but do not have the right to vote.” Giraldo spoke of how unfortunate it was that so many people have this right and don’t use it, saying, “my vote doesn’t count, but I have an opinion.”