Culture, Life, Church, Leadership, The Faith, Pro-life

What I Wish College Students Knew about Voting

"Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual... but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country." — U.S. Founding Father Samuel Adams, 1781

It's been said that bad politicians are elected by good people who do not vote. In the upcoming elections, we have a duty to vote as Catholics and to model that practice to those with whom we interact. Recent statistics show that only one in five Catholics are registered to vote.

YOUR VOTE IS NEEDED IN 2016! This election is of utmost importance because our religious freedom and conscience rights are being whittled away, and deliberate threats have been made against human life in its most innocent form.

Politics during this election cycle have been exhausting and disenchanting. How have we gotten here? Why so much propaganda in the news? Who do you believe?

Here are five things I wish college students knew about voting:

1) Make sure you are registered. Visit https://vote.gov/ and click on your state. It will inform you of the voter protocol for your state, and if you’re eligible to register online, the site will redirect your to your state’s website. If you have questions about voting as Catholics, visit EWTN’s Voting FAQ. It is a great source for clear answers!

2) Get informed on policy. STICK TO THE POLITICS, not the gossip. Forget the media — and I mean ALL MEDIA, including social media. Search engines and social media don’t report honestly and have weighted their algorithms to boost their favorite candidate. In this particular election, the press has deftly distracted the American people away from the positions and onto gossip. Go to the candidate’s website to look up their positions; you will be surprised what you find versus what the media reports. Visit or call your state pro-life organizations and ask why they’re endorsing a particular candidate. The top issues at hand are the next president’s appointments of several hundred federal judges and several Supreme Court justices, federally funded abortions, immigration, national debt crisis, economy, foreign policy and healthcare, among others. Are you educated in these areas? Most of the major media outlets have turned into campaign wings for secularism. Ask yourself these questions: Where am I getting my information from? How has the media affected me?

3) Talk with people wiser than you. Be bold and consult with family, business leaders and owners, friends in finance, nonprofits and other industries. Talk to them in person and mutually agree to respect each other’s differences. Go beyond the person with whom you share a dorm room or cubicle. Listen with an open mind. Talk to your parish priest and discuss issues that are of utmost importance to Catholics: abortion, religious freedom, etc. You'll find yourself being pleasantly surprised and motivated to get involved as you engage the others around you.

4) Know about your local and state officials. While you’re voting, remember you also have a duty to vote in local and state elections. This is where you should split hairs, not necessarily on the national level. These people may possibly show up in Washington in a decade, so ask questions and attend your local town hall meetings and events. Check out this info on the National Right to Life Office with state-by-state pro-life endorsement links, or contact them by phone at (202) 626-8805. Every state has some sort of Right to Life Office, so get familiar with yours and the list of pro-life candidates on their websites. Or visit http://www.ontheissues.org/default.htm to view state-by-state elected officials and where they stand.

5) Pray. Prayer is the most obvious way to get involved. Invite Jesus into the conversation. You have the opportunity to participate in this call, to live these words and to be a *Catholic* voting American. Don’t expect any candidate to be perfect, and don’t let their humanity disengage you from participating in elections this year. We live in a messy world, and we are called to shape and engage the culture. We shouldn’t shy away from the public square. We exist in free society because of law and order, albeit imperfect at best. No candidate is going to show up without a past; no democratic system or party is without its flaws. As Christians, we are made to shine light into the darkness of our culture and work with the world we live in, not abandon it.

Early Christians didn't tear down the old temples in Rome. They consecrated them for Christ. We are all a work in progress. Remember: It’s our duty to vote for the BEST (not just the perfect) civil servant to steer our country, and this year is a crucial election for every American to vote in. Being an absent voter in a culture that so badly needs direction is abandonment, and we’ll be held responsible to God for our apathy and ignorance. Let us come together in prayer, educate our opinions and show up at the polls in November.

The opinions expressed here are those of our contributors and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinions of FOCUS (The Fellowship of Catholic University Students).