Why does my vote matter in a pool of thousands? How can my opinion sway the tide of an already popular or unpopular topic? I’ll be the first in accepting that those same thoughts swam across my head at one point. But I can tell you the exact day that I stopped thinking them; January 20, 2017.
For those of you well versed in American politics, that should be an easy date to guess, and for those of you that aren’t, it’s probably still an easy guess.
During that fateful election, I kept thinking there was no way my vote could change the tide. Hilary was going to win and that was a fact, it didn’t matter if I voted for her or Vermin Supreme (please, please look up who that is). But despite CNN voting patterns and POLITICO’s predictions, Trump won that election fair and square, losing the popular vote but winning over the Electoral College in what had to be one of the most shocking elections in recent memory; and the worst part was I didn’t vote.
I am not trying to say that my vote would have convinced the Electoral College to see, in my eyes, the error of their ways and not give the nuclear codes to a candidate who I deemed unfit for office. That’s too much to ask for. But what I am trying to say is that for the next four years, I had to bite my lip every time someone defended putting children behind cages or any of Trump’s policies, because I had not voted. It meant that no matter how much I disagreed with a statement or wanted to engage in political discourse, I couldn’t, because how could I possibly critique the actions of an administration that I never voted against? Voting is the ultimate expression of the democratic process, and if you don’t use it, then there’s little to complain about.
Now, what does my little rant about national politics an ocean away have to do with the SU elections here at NUI Galway? Everything.
Here, more so than in the American presidential election, your vote matters. In a university of over 19,000 students, one vote really can make a difference. It can mean the beginning of a political career for some, and the readjustment of a trajectory for others. It will mean a direct and immediate impact on your quality of life as a student. Depending on the candidate’s priorities, interests and goals, you may find yourself living in a different university than before, for better or worse.
If you want it to be the former, then please, come March 3rd, vote for whom you want to lead and shape your Student Union. Because it is yours, they are there for you. And only if you vote will your concerns and goals be prioritised.
It was too late for me, I had to stomach four years of mono-syllabic tweets, but it’s not for you. Get voting.