Vote like your life depends on it

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Only 37 percent of Oregonians had turned in their ballots as of Oct. 30, reports KVAL.com. The overall number of voters is down by 17 percent from previous years.

I applaud everyone who has already submitted his or her ballot and urge procrastinators to make turning in their ballot one the their priorities of the day. It’s too late to mail in your ballot, so make sure that you drop it off at your county’s election office or library.

I’ve talked to several people who say that they’re too busy to vote or think that their vote doesn’t matter.

I’m here to encourage you to vote because it does matter. There are important measures on the Oregon ballot that affect all residents and that all eligible voters should care enough about to put in their two cents.

Many of the measures directly affect students through education, allotment of state lottery dollars and taxes. These measures affect our state economy, which in turn, affects how easy it is for students to find summer jobs and, upon graduation, a career. Recently, a career counselor shared that last summer had an all-time low in successful job searches.

On Oct. 31, The Oregonian‘s front-page story was more frightening than anything else I encountered on Halloween. They listed a colorful chart showing the hundreds of Oregonians and Washingtonians who have lost their homes this year due to foreclosures. Most of these homes were looted and vandalized by their prior tenants, who had previously been law-abiding citizens.

Twenty to 30-year-olds are moving back in with their parents because apartment complexes are spiking the rates to unaffordable sums of money. Four years ago, I was paying $475 for a one-bedroom apartment in Oregon City, but now it’s nearly impossible to find anyplace in the Portland metro for less than $600 a month.

Unfortunately, economists speculate that the worst has yet to come.

If you didn’t vote and something gets passed that you don’t like, you have no one to blame but yourself. Right now, less than half of eligible voters are deciding the outcome for everyone. If everyone voted, the outcome could be completely different.

The same is true about the presidency. Many people who abhor Bush are not planning on voting this year. Some don’t think that their vote counts. Some believe that the election is rigged because of the 2000 election debacle. It is suspicious that Al Gore won the popular vote and only after the recount of Gov. Jeb Bush’s Florida ballots was it announced that his brother George W. Bush won more electoral votes.

Even if the conspiracy theory is true, only 67.7 percent of registered voters even voted in that election, according to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. Perhaps if more people had voted, Gore would have won the election in an undisputable victory, or people would have been more likely to challenge the results.

But at that time, people weren’t desperate. The Clinton era had left us comfortable and complacent with the best economy that we’d seen in years. Gore’s defeat seemed unfortunate but not tragic to the American majority.

Now, however, most Americans are looking toward their preferred presidential candidate with the hope that, as president, he will have the ability to save us from poverty. If he doesn’t win the electoral vote but wins the popular vote, as Gore did in 2000, I know many people who will be outraged enough to demand a recount.

I also know several people planning to immigrate to Canada and other countries if their preferred candidate doesn’t win the election, but they won’t be able to escape the consequences for long-the United States is too interwoven in the global economy.

Losing their homes and jobs, people are becoming increasingly desperate; revolutions only occur when people are desperate. Turning in a Scantron may not make you feel like an activist for change, but it’s a good start.

Our economy depends on your votes.

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