Today marks the conclusion of a dramatic midterm election season that has roiled the country and this campus in innumerable ways. The seeds of change sown today could affect this campus for years to come. Therefore, there is only one thing to say to our eligible classmates: Go vote!
There are numerous reasons why voting is important, and we do not plan to reiterate them all here, but readers should remember that voting is both a power and a right. There is power in casting one’s ballot — especially in memory of those who dedicated their lives over the centuries to secure this right. We also must remember our undocumented or international peers who cannot vote but whose lives may change as a result of this election.
Voters have perennial concerns that a specific candidate or issue may be uninteresting or unimportant. Yet every ballot item has consequences. As citizens, we have an obligation to be informed about all issues on the ballot and vote for them, as just because an issue may not affect one personally does not mean it does not exist.
This is especially important if one is voting in Cambridge, our home for most of the year. Harvard is not Cambridge; the issues on the ballot have repercussions stretching beyond the Square. The nature of the ballot itself, with its binary “Yes” or “No” options on ballot questions, and the choice between parties’ nominees (with, admittedly, a write-in option), can often belie the complex truth and debate behind initiatives and candidates. We must do our best to break beyond this and fully understand the stakes of our decisions.
We have appreciated the various initiatives our community has put together to encourage Harvard to vote; for instance, we reaffirm our appreciation of the Harvard-Yale Votes Challenge, now down to the wire (especially in the face of The Game next weekend). But these get-out-the-vote efforts may potentially reinforce the notion that voting is only important this election. This is not the case. Voting is always important, not just now or in two years, and eligible students should use this election as an opportunity to reinforce this good habit of voting for the rest of their lives.
Regardless of which party or ideology is dominant in the country, voters must participate in every single election cycle. Today is not a one-off event. We hope that the Challenge and similar initiatives are mindful of this and do not end their work tomorrow, continuing through 2020 and beyond.
The most we can ask of our peers and fellow citizens is to use the power of the critical thinking skills we develop here at Harvard to spend meaningful time considering the various issues on our ballots. It is paramount that voters choose what they believe is the best decision, regardless of what the wider world may say.
This staff editorial is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.