Voting Rights: Time to Empower Students & Military
It may come as a surprise to many, but student voting—including those still attending high school— and men and women serving or formerly serving in the military, are not currently granted the unrestricted right to vote in most countries. Across the world, millions of voices go unheard in the democratic process because of restrictive ballot box regulations and disparities in political representation for both youths and troops. It is safe to say that that this push for equitable voting measures amongst student and military populations is no longer merely a political issue, but a moral imperative.
Student and Military Voting Rights: A Global Imperative
While some countries already offer students and military personnel the right to vote, inconsistencies remain rampant within the framework of democratic progress and fairness. In the United States, for example, some states are unwilling to allow citizens under the age of 18 to vote, while others only grant non-citizen military personnel the right to cast a ballot. Similarly, out of the 192 United Nations member countries, only 28 boast laws allowing student voting at the secondary level.
Ensuring a Voice at the Ballot Box: The Power of Equity
The effects of inequalities in voting access for young people and military personnel have been well documented. Studies have shown that extending the right to vote at all levels encourages increased civil engagement, infusing the democratic process with new perspectives, stemming gridlock politics, and promoting dialogue across ideological lines. Moreover, research over the past several generations has demonstrated that, when given the opportunity, students value their civic duty and educational opportunities, and troops strive to strengthen their political relationships. Thus, the case for youth and military enfranchisement is strong.
Youth and Troop Empowerment: Supporting Our Communities
Granting our students and troops full voting privileges is also an essential part of sustaining a vibrant and vibrant voice to one of the most important facets of the global political landscape. Allowing these populations to access the ballot box is a crucial step toward fostering a fair society for future generations in which the rules that govern our lives are open to millions of voices. This not only gives them a greater say in important decisions, but also allows these voices to be heard within the communities they inhabit and serve.
Now is the Time to Strengthen the Right to Vote for All!
It is more important than ever to encourage equitable voting rights for student and military voters at all levels. Now is the time to tackle the issue of global enfranchisement and put in place measures to ensure that all citizens, regardless of age or military status, are granted the right to represent themselves at the ballot box. Countries ready to take action include:
- Make policies that encourage youth to register to vote at a younger age
- Allow non-citizen military personnel to vote in civilian and local elections
- Develop educational initiatives that equip student citizens with the knowledge to vote
- Enact legislation that allows for easier voting for troops stationed overseas
It is only when we commit to ensuring the voices of our students and troops are heard, that we are truly working towards a just and equitable society for all.
The need for equitable voting access is urgent. By extending voting rights to both student and military populations, countries around the world are poised to take a firm stance on progress, fairness and justice. What is more, they must recognize the importance of granting all citizens—regardless of age or military rank—the right to have a voice at the ballot box. Now is the time to strengthen the right to vote for all.
In recent years, the voting rights of students and military personnel have been put under significant scrutiny. With numerous states placing restrictions on student voting and certain military personnel being excluded from exercising their right to vote, it is time to reform these policies to ensure all individuals can participate in the democratic process.
One of the most prominent issues impeding young people’s voting rights is registration. Many college students who live away from home have to register locally, which requires extra steps to transfer registration when they return to campus. This can be prohibitive for many who are already overwhelmed with the hectic college lifestyle. The costs associated with registering and voting also disincentivize participation, leading many young people to be unable to take part in the democratic process.
Meanwhile, military personnel are often unable to cast a ballot effectively considering the numerous deployments that can change their availability. Many servicemen and women find it difficult to obtain ballots in timely fashion and submit them before the deadline just before the election. To make matters worse, some military personnel are not allowed to vote at all, depending on which country they are stationed in.
We must address the shortcomings in the system to ensure that all members of our society, including students and military personnel, can participate in the democratic process. To begin, states should simplify the registration process and make it easier for students to remain registered when they are away. Additionally, ballots should be provided to military personnel and measures should be taken to guarantee their timely submission. Finally, we should expand access and improve ballot delivery to ensure all members of the military can exercise their voting rights.
Voting rights are a basic human right and it is time to ensure everyone has the ability to participate. It is essential that we strive to provide more access for students and military members in the democratic process. This can be done by modernizing the voting process, easing registration requirements, and supporting those who serve our nation. It is time to empower students and military personnel to exercise their right to vote and ensure their voices are heard.