Professors are talking more about the November elections as the Oct. 6 voter registration deadline approaches. As I sat in one of my classes, my teacher wanted to see the hands of all the students not registered to vote.
As numerous hands shot up, the professor was frightened and asked what were their reasons? One student replied because “voting is overrated and our votes do not matter.” Although this was not the consensus of entire the class, this answer struck a nerve.
Anyone born in this country has the right to vote after their 18th birthday. It is a right that is guaranteed for Americans. But for those born outside of this country, the process to become naturalized is tedious and expensive. to say the least.
In order to become naturalized the Department of Homeland Security instructs applicants to establish a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States. They also must be able to read, write and speak English and a host of other requirements.
What the department fails to mention is you must be able to afford the countless nonrefundable fees associated with each of the 100 packets that you must fill out, which add up to $695. This total is sometimes multiplied or tripled if they deem your information incomplete, thus forcing you to re-apply.
The cost doesn’t include the countless number of hours you spend standing in line dealing with personnel that treat you as if you are a dog begging for food. Or time spent taking a test about American history with questions half the staff would not be able to answer.
Let’s not forget the infinite number of times your paperwork will be returned because of “missing information.” After going through this process for over three years, to hear that a right that I have fought hard to obtain is “overrated” is disheartening.
If you ever received a letter in the mail stating continuing your college education is dependant upon proof of citizenship or permanent residence, then I assure you voting is not overrated.
We all feel the pain of increased tuition, but if we do not vote then we cannot complain about. Although we may not see the instantaneous effects of voting, it affects our lives in years to come. It affects the policies that govern this country and the people that reside in it.
Remember that some of your classmates and best friends are from other countries and are fighting hard to receive half the benefits most Americans enjoy. They may not have a voice, and they need you to let our voices be heard on Election Day.
Shashee Moore is a senior public relations student from West Palm Beach, Fla. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org