It is with this thought that Delta State University, spearheaded by political science professor Gary Jennings, has organized DSUVotes, a campaign aimed at attracting young voters to the polls for the Nov. 6 general election.
On Thursday, Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Judson Thigpen and Dr. Wayne Blansett, vice president of DSU student affairs, were asked to speak to the student body to explain how the presidential election will affect the Delta area economically.
"A lot of times I don't believe that voters, especially younger ones, understand the trickle down effect that whoever is voted into an office can have," said Thigpen. "One of problems is that finding the honest issues and views of a candidate is becoming more and more difficult because of the biased opinions everywhere you turn. That is why I encourage every voter, regardless of party affiliations, to research each candidate and make the best choice for you.
"In the end it doesn't matter who you vote for because you're going to have to be able to work with whoever takes office," Thigpen added.
Blansett agreed and offered the last governor's race and the effect it will have on the members that will represent Mississippi universities on the Board of Trustees of the State Institutes of Higher Learning as an example.
"The way the IHL board is set up, a two-term governor will have the unique opportunity to appoint eight of the 12 sitting members of the board during his time in office," said Blansett. "When you think about it, that fact alone can give that elected official a lot of influence on the future decisions made concerning the state's public institutions."
Blansett said that historically, the percentage of those 18-35-year-olds that actually vote has been dismal.
"A recent poll published by U.S. News and World Report shows that of the voting age population between 18-30-years-old, only 13 percent of this age group is voting," said Blansett. "You talk about apathy. That figure is apathy personified.
"I want to be sure to bring that figure close to home," he continued. "So I took the latest figure of a campus election, which gives our student body practice of voting. In that last student election, we had only 27 percent of the student body vote."
Jennings added that the figures showing American voters over the last two election years show a similar pattern. His figures showed that the percentage of voting Americans dropped approximately 20 percent between last two elections.
Blansett went on to say that it is not only a right, but also a duty to vote.
"We are here today to encourage you to participate in the democratic process," Blansett continued. "The democratic process is one of the special privileges that you have as an American. If you cannot take the time to cast a vote then you should not be allowed to argue or criticize decisions of policies that a candidate makes."
The DSUvotes campaign will continue to run through the Nov. 6 election and incumbent U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson, D-2nd Congressional District of Mississippi, will be the next guest speaker when he appears at the Jacobs Conference Center inside Ewing Hall on the DSU campus on Oct. 25.