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Why Voting is the Most Important Thing You’ll Do This November

Following both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, now is an excellent time to become more involved in and up to date about the upcoming presidential election. Debates are right around the corner, and us Collegiettes should feel more motivated than ever to participate in casting our well-informed votes. Not only is voting an empowering experience in itself, it is also an important active expression of democracy, particularly for today’s youth and women.

Only about 53% of eligible Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 voted in the 2008 presidential election. As young college students, some of us even beginning our transition into the professional world, we must take advantage of our political voices. If you don’t play, you can’t win! Public policy for the next four years will be determined by the election in November, and issues such as government spending, taxes, Medicare, women’s rights, and unemployment will undoubtedly present themselves in our daily lives.

Inspired to vote yet? Here’s what you can do:

1. Get Informed! With easy access to virtually endless sources of information about the politics and the election, it may seem impossible to find a starting point. Votesmart.org is a non-partisan website dedicated to educating voters on key issues and candidates. Speeches from the both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions can easily be found on YouTube or major news outlets. Worthwhile speeches to watch from this year included those of former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

2. Register to Vote. This is crucial! Whether you register yourself as an absentee voter in your home state or in Connecticut, you must mail in your voter registration by October 23rd. Depending on your political affiliation and the blue/red tendencies of the states you live in, the state you vote in may or may not matter. All you need to register is your driver’s license number or the last four digits of your social security number.

Registering is easier than ever. You can download, print, and fill out the form from the Election Assistance Commission. Or, even more simply, you can fill out your voter registration online and then mail it to your Secretary of State at any of the following websites:

Remember that filling out your registration information online does not mean you have completed the process. Make sure to print out the forms, sign them, and mail them in!

3. Stay Updated. Keeping up with the presidential election seems like a daunting task, but with the right outlets, it can be painless and motivating. The Economist has a particularly detailed section of their website dedicated to the 2012 election, including polls, articles, and blog posts. The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are excellent sources as well!

4. Get to the Polls! Come November 6th, you’ll either cast your vote in CT or send in your absentee ballot. To find your local voting site, you can enter your address at http://www.vote411.org/. If you decide to vote in your home state, you simply follow the instructions you receive with your ballot, mailing them on or before election day.

Good luck!

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