Meghan Carpenter ’14, American studies and political science, is director of community and governmental affairs for UMBC’s Student Government Association.
If you walk down UMBC’s main academic row and ask people if they’re sick of politics, many will say yes without skipping a beat. Understandably, it’s easy to be disenchanted with politics when candidates are constantly asking for contributions so that they can run more attack ads in swing states. In a state like Maryland where our votes don’t often appear to matter, it can be hard to believe that anyone’s solitary vote can make a difference.
On the contrary, voting cannot be more important. Throughout our nation’s history people have died, gone to jail, and spent countless hours protesting in hostile environments in order for everyone in America to be able to vote. Because of the sacrifice of many, we generally have the privilege of being able to discuss issues and vote on them, without intimidation or danger. Voting is vital because of the feeling of energy that comes from being able to push that button on Election Day, knowing that one second can make a difference in the country’s future. When young people vote, we make it more likely that public officials will pay attention to our priorities.
The UMBC Student Government Association is going to do everything it can this election season to make voting anything but a solitary act. Our campus strives to make elections into a community experience. We’re working with a lot of student organizations and departments to make sure students are registered to vote and that they have the facts they need. In the weeks leading up to Election Day, we’ll have opportunities for people to predict the electoral map, watch the debates together, take pictures of themselves at their voting locations, do their best candidate impressions, and more.
On election night after you’ve cast your vote, we’re inviting the UMBC community to come to the Commons from 7:00 p.m. to midnight to watch democracy in action. Election Night Extravaganza is held every four years to put the party back in politics. With some special guests and delicious pizza, you’ll share your stories and opinions, watch the returns on big-screen TVs, and participate in lively discussion about how the issues influenced your votes. There will be plenty more food, games, and music. You won’t want to miss what happens at the end.
Your community can’t be with you in the voting booth, but the fate of the community rests on the decisions that we make as a collective. Election Night Extravaganza brings us together under one roof, so that all of the UMBC family can experience ourselves as a part of something much bigger than ourselves, or even our campus. We are a part of a democracy, and we are a part of freedom.
Contact the author, Meghan Carpenter, at email@example.com.