An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

The Georgia Student Finance Commission collaborated with 49 Georgia colleges to waive application fees in March. This removed barriers for Midtown students who were previously unable to apply to certain colleges.
Georgia Colleges waive application fees, remove barriers
Brennan FrittsApril 15, 2024

The Georgia Student Finance Commission partnered with nearly 50 colleges throughout Georgia to waive their application fees during March. Midtown...

Voter turnout crucial to 2024 election

Wikimedia Commons
President Joe Biden won the US presidential election in 2020 after a year of record-breaking voter turnout. However, Americans are unhappy with the prospect of a Biden vs. Trump rematch, and recent polling suggests significantly reduced interest in voting for the 2024 election.

An alarming percentage of Americans are planning not to vote in the 2024 presidential election due to dissatisfaction with President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. Concern over the quality of both candidates should not dissuade people from voting; it should just encourage them to do more research and pick the candidate who represents their interests best. 

According to the 2023 Harvard Youth Poll, only 49% of 18-29 year-olds plan to vote in 2024, an 8% decrease from 2019. Record youth turnout in 2020 was a decisive factor in President Biden’s victory, but this year’s election is starting to look very different. Only 33% of Americans view President Biden favorably, and just 29% of Americans approve of former President Donald Trump. The lack of options has been very discouraging for Americans, but voters need to look past issues where neither candidate is trusted and examine their opinions on issues where candidates have clearly opposing policies, including border control, taxation and reproductive rights. 

American politics often mirror the disheartening result of the 2016 election; only half of eligible voters who disapproved of President Trump voted against him. Americans have been electing presidents for 236 years, and we’ve started to take our voting rights for granted. Countries that have only had elections for 60 years or fewer have some of the highest voter turnout rates in the world. The countries with the two highest voting rates, Equatorial Guinea (98.41%) and Rwanda (98.15%), had their first elections in 1968 and 1965. Citizens of these countries have faced oppression and colonization for so many years that they treat the ability to vote as a privilege, not a chore. Americans need to realize how lucky we are to have presidential elections and start engaging in the civic process to ensure the continuation of an adequate representative democracy.

In 2016, 25% of registered nonvoters said they chose to avoid the election because they disliked both candidates. Additionally, 15% of nonvoters said they didn’t vote because they felt their individual ballots were meaningless. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Nearly 100 million eligible Americans didn’t vote in 2016, which is more than enough to have elected a different candidate or completely altered the outcome of the election. If those nonvoters had each researched their interests and picked the candidate they preferred, the election would have been entirely different, which should be motivation enough for any stragglers to vote in 2024. With voters harshly divided on topics, including reproductive rights, the economy and foreign affairs, the 2024 election will be one of the most impactful ones yet. 

Some argue that improved access to voter registration and early/absentee voting is necessary to increase turnout and make elections more fair. A Pew Research Poll shows that while 82% of Democrats want automatic registration for all eligible voters, only 38% of Republicans support this idea. Interestingly, voters from both parties favor bringing back paper ballots instead of electronic voting machines. Democrats overwhelmingly support solutions like making election day a national holiday and extending the early voting period, which would make voting more accessible to citizens across social classes.

Although projections are low, spreading awareness about the importance of voting could play a big role in increasing voter turnout. Student organization Midtown High Votes aims to register students and foster a culture of civic engagement at Midtown. This culture reflects what will hopefully become a pattern in Georgia voter turnout; 2020 was a record election year for the whole country, but Georgia specifically saw a 7.7% increase in voters. Once Georgians understand the importance of the election ahead, we can come back strong and have our values heard.

Election participation is one of the most important factors keeping America’s democracy alive, and turnout for the 2024 election needs to match the high stakes surrounding its outcome. Each individual vote is extremely important to the result of the election, so citizens need to understand that it’s vital for them to participate.

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About the Contributor
Audrey Lyons
Audrey Lyons, Writer
Audrey Lyons is a sophomore and this is her first year writing for the Southerner. In her free time, she enjoys singing, playing guitar, acting, and running.

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