Why Vote

Issues affecting upstate students and Americans as a whole

We want to preface this section by saying that there are many complex issues facing our society and generation. No matter your opinion on these issues, we believe your voice in these matters is crucial. We can’t have robust debates on issues without it.

Student Debt

According to the Pew Research Fact Tank, “Student debt is the only kind of household debt that continued to rise through the Great Recession, eclipsing credit card debt to become the second largest type of debt owed by American households, after mortgages. According to a new Pew Research report, a record 37% of young households had outstanding student loans in 2010, up from 22% in 2001 and 16% in 1989. The median student debt owed by these young households was $13,000.”

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Over the past decade in American politics, there has been a fight over health care policy and the government’s role in healthcare. The current healthcare debate will decide what health care system we will enter into in a few years. The outcomes of this debate will include how much we pay in health care premiums, the type, and quality of care we receive, and the role our government plays in our lives. Each party has a different view on healthcare and how much the government should be involved. Regardless of the approach, Americans agree on one thing: that health care costs are currently a problem. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the average healthcare premium is $18,764; and premiums are set to go up in 2019.

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Opioid Epidemic

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioid drugs are, “a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription such as oxycontin…” Roughly 115 people die a day due to an opioid drug overdose. According to the National Institute of Health Care Management, “Every hour in 2015 76 people were treated in and released from an emergency department for emergency-related care.” In 2016, there were roughly 4.6 overdose deaths every hour. Currently, 43 States have orders to dispense naloxone without a prescription. In 2006 there were 273,500 Emergency department visits, in 2015 this number increased to 667,500. With no clear resolution in sight, the opioid crisis has already impacted our generation through the loss of prominent figures, as well as friends and family, and will surely be an issue our generation must face and deal with the consequences of.

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People have fought for their right to vote:

Many citizens don’t think about the discriminatory history against many groups of people and how much they had to struggle to achieve the right to vote. Today, all United States citizens over the age of 18 have the right to cast their vote in any government election. To get to the point of universal suffrage that we have today, many people before us had to take action. Voting was a privilege given to a certain group of people; wealthy white males.

There were restrictions on voting all throughout the history of this country. Many groups of people were not allowed to vote because of their race, gender, religion, and economic status. American women did not get full voting rights until August 26, 1960, when the 19th Amendment was ratified. At this point, the fight for women’s voting rights has been going on for over 70 years, with the first woman's rights convention was held in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York.

When it comes to citizens of different races, there was also a long fight for voting rights. Even with the 15th amendment becoming ratified in 1869 allowing African American men the right to vote, many states made efforts to prevent this from happening. Jim Crow laws were applied in many southern states that helped disenfranchise African American voters. These laws created requirements like literacy tests, poll taxes and more that reduced the number of African Americans eligible to vote. The negative impact of this can be seen when by 1940, only 3 percent of African Americans who are eligible to vote were registered in southern states (ACLU).

Before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, discriminatory laws and failure to pay poll taxes in some states, prevented many other groups from voting. The Chinese Exclusion Act took away citizenship or the possibility of becoming citizens to those of Chinese heritage and ancestry, along with the right to vote. Other demographics like Native Americans. Filipinos, Japanese, and more groups faced discrimination laws that made it difficult to earn citizenship and all rights that come with it. Lastly, college age students under 21 would not have had the right to vote prior to 1971 when the 26th Amendment was passed, and the voting age was lowered to 18.

As we can see, universal suffrage that we have today is something that had to be fought for by many people. For centuries, entire groups of people didn’t have that choice, which is why it is important to not take your right to vote for granted!

Everything is gerrymandered anyway, why does it matter?

Despite current outlooks on our political climate, voting matters because that’s how we, as citizens, have our voices heard in our government. If you have a policy preference but are not satisfied with the government’s current efforts, then that’s all the more reason to vote; we cannot change anything by doing nothing. Political districts—the districts that are commonly gerrymandered—are usually drawn by the party that controlling a state’s legislature. You can combat the problem in part by voting for state candidates who share your views on gerrymandering.

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Oswego is in a competitive district

Why should you vote? Because your vote matters. Oswego, along with Syracuse, Wayne County, and Cayuga County, is part of the 24th Congressional District of New York, a highly competitive district in each election. What do we mean when we say the district is competitive?

We mean that no single political party reliably knows that they will win this congressional seat. An example of this competitiveness is that the current Representative for NY–24, John Katko, was the first incumbent to win re–election 10 years. His Democratic challenger is Dana Balter of Syracuse. Another competitive district is New York’s 22nd Congressional District. This district contains the cities of Binghamton, Cortland, and Utica as well as the eastern half of Oswego County.

Republican Claudia Tenney is NY–24’s current representative and is being challenged by Anthony Brindisi, a Democratic member of the New York State Assembly from Utica. When you cast your ballot in a competitive district, it isn’t that your vote is worth more, but that your vote has the potential to influence the outcome of the election. This is especially true in local elections. For example, the election in the 2nd ward in the City of Oswego was decided by 32 votes.