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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Sonoma chapter.

Now that it is a presidential election year in the United States, you are probably seeing a variety of messages across various media platforms surrounding candidates and issues. With eccentric personalities among the candidates drawing in viewers with their entertaining demeanors, such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, it seems as if the country is more politically engaged than ever. Yet according to USA Today, early polling data suggests the typical low voter turnout among college-age individuals in the November election. Citing the US Census Bureau, it is explained that “young adult voters between the ages of 18 and 24 have consistently voted at lower rates than all other age groups in every presidential election since 1962… [and] on average, less than half of eligible young adult voters will actually make it to the polls.” (USA Today) However, there are many compelling reasons as to why we, as college students and citizens of the US, absolutely need to be politically engaged. 

 Because it makes politicians accountable 

Presidential candidates tend to spend a disproportionate amount of time and effort focusing on issues pertaining to the older generation compared to issues at the forefront of millennial concerns; despite the fact that millennials have surpassed baby boomers as the largest living generation (Pew Research). If more young adults make their way to the voting booths, politicians will have to address the issues most important to this voter pool. Beyond simply the younger generation, imagine what would happen if no one payed attention to politics. Politicians would be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want, and without accountability. 

 Because one in three college women experience sexual assault 

 If you think about it, the government plays a large role in the quality of our sexual health. The services we receive, preventative measures put in place, and our ability to seek help from the school and on campus are all determined by politics and who our representatives are. A recent example of detrimental effects of negative governmental intervention can be found in the defunding of Planned Parenthood, which led to lack of access to contraception, medical screenings, and other services to low income individuals. On the flip side, an example of aid to women can be found in Title IX. Passed in 1972, it requires gender equity for males and females in all educational programs that receive federal funding. Because of this law, women cannot be expelled for being pregnant, and “schools have a legal obligation to prevent and address any reported sexual harassment.” (neatoday.org) Recently, fraternities and sororities across the country have hired lobbyists to push a bill that would prevent intervention from the college when certain students are accused of sexual assault, while other Greek organizations have condemned these actions. This highlights that no matter what side of a political issue you fall on, if you care then you have to be involved or you simply get no say. 

Because what happens in politics, doesn’t stay in politics 

Political decisions affect you. I’ll say it again for the people in the back: Political decisions affect you, your loved ones, your not so loved ones; really a large span of your everyday life. Legislation can change everything from the taxes you pay, to the price of gas you put in your car, the type of education you have access to, and the healthcare benefits you receive. The government can declare war, build international relations, and through its actions, directly shape how the global community views us. 

In the simplest terms, political decisions can either largely improve your quality of life, or lead to a lot of harm. Are you going to let someone else decide? 

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