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EDITORIAL: If you want change, vote

(Photo Illustration) An "I Voted" cutout lies on a Central Michigan University sweater Oct. 15.

In a year like no other, one million voters across Michigan have already cast their ballots ahead of election day Nov. 3.

It is paramount that college students participate in this election. Educate yourself. Research the candidates who appear on this year's ballot. Then, make sure to cast your vote – whether  mail-in or in person.

The results of this election goes beyond who will be sitting in the oval office the next four years. The impact begins at a local level. Local government officials play an important part in implementing change in our communities. Social justice reform, climate change policy and COVID-19 safety are action issues that start in our hometowns and in the state of Michigan.

By participating in this year’s election, you play a part in electing Michigan Supreme Court justices, local judges and state legislators. These elected public servants will make decisions that affect our lives and the lives of our children.

Our voices matter more than you might think. This year will be the last that Baby Boomers have the largest political influence by generation and have candidates at the top of the ticket. Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Joe Biden are both in their mid-70s. 

Over the next decade, Gen X and Millennials will assume a greater role governing. The ballots cast by Millennials will make a greater impact than in previous elections. 

Generation Z voters will also begin to have a greater impact in national politics. Voting rates among college students more than doubled between the 2014 and 2018 midterm elections, according to a study by Tufts University. Another dramatic spike in political engagement this fall will only benefit a country in dire need of change.

This election will impact the start of our professional careers. The people who are elected in November, while for a limited time, will write policy and pass laws that will affect millions of United States citizens just like us. 

This has been the most divisive presidential election in United States history. It has caused divisions among family members and friends. 

Don't let that discourage you from exercising your right to cast your ballot. In fact, casting your vote might make you feel pretty good after months of political ads, unwatchable TV debates and 24-hour election coverage. It's finally time to have our say. 

Our future hangs in the balance this November.

Do your part.