I can still feel the energy that penetrated every corner of our country during the 2008 presidential election. It was a story filled with drama, celebrities, political ads, millions of doors knocked on and thousands of volunteers. Unlike “The Sopranos,” we all know how the story ended — then-Sen. Barack Obama, winning 365 votes from the Electoral College, almost 67 million votes and 53 percent of the popular vote to become our nation’s 44th president.

There were record numbers of college students involved in that election: both volunteering or simply voting. Many would argue that we were a large part of the reason that Senator Obama became President Obama.

I wasn’t in Ann Arbor in 2008. I was still in Washington, D.C., a senior in high school during that historic time. I cannot claim to be part of the college campus movement, but I was still a student. Along with dozens of friends from my school, I spent weekend after weekend leading up to election day going to Virginia to talk to voters. And so, in some way, I can connect to the many stories I have heard from upperclassmen about those months.

Election day is today. In these midterm elections, we have a chance to have our voices heard once again.

But this year, there’s as little hype on campus for the election as there was for the fourth “Shrek” movies. This all leads me to ask a question to students: Where is the energy?

This election day is important. Today voters across the country will re-elect or replace their House representative. Voters in 36 states will do the same for one of their senators and 37 states, including Michigan, will choose new governors.

But we can’t forget that Michigan also has other statewide races going on: secretary of state, attorney general, Supreme Court justices, every state House and many state Senate positions, ballot proposals, mayors, county commissioners, school district positions and state education positions that will all be decided by your vote.

Your vote today is important. Do not let anyone tell you that “One vote doesn’t matter.” That is completely, patently false. In the 2000 presidential election, Florida’s voters chose George W. Bush by 500 votes, giving him the state and propelling him over the 270 Electoral College votes needed. On a state level in 2008, Al Franken won his U.S. Senate seat by only 318 votes. This past summer, Yousef Rabhi won the Democratic primary election for 11th District Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners by one vote — 998 to 997. Elections, especially local ones, are decided by a tiny percentage of the electorate.

Additionally, the offices you are filling with your vote are important for two reasons. The first is practical: The decisions made by these men and women will directly affect you, your friends and your families. Will we have a congressman that supports the recent health care reform bill or one that wants to repeal it? Will we have a secretary of state who will improve access to voting or one that will use their energy to fight against election deception and fraud? Your vote can decide the answer to those questions and many more.

The second reason is more ideological. The vast majority of people in the United States, myself included, believe in democracy as a theory and an ideal. We cry out against brutal dictatorships across the world, which prevent their citizens from the same rights we have. And yet, over 50 percent of us nationwide forget the reason why we have this democratic political system in the first place: democracy inherently gives every citizen a way to be heard in our society. If we hold these beliefs and make these claims about the power of democracy and don’t participate in our own democratic government, then we are a nation of hypocrites, fighting for free elections all over the world and then not participating in our own back home. We are a nation of whiners, perpetually complaining about current conditions and the state of our lives, but making no move to change them.

But I believe we are also a nation of doers, taking action when it’s deemed necessary. We are a nation of concerned individuals, speaking out about things that will affect both us and the generations to come. I believe in a nation where people participate because they know it is their right to be heard. I believe in the nation where we all vote.

Today, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., go vote. Go to mgovote.umich.edu to find your polling location. Bring your Mcard (or some other form of ID) and your friends. To paraphrase Gandhi, vote for the change you wish to see in the world.

Yonah Lieberman is a member of Voice Your Vote, a nonpartisan Michigan Student Assembly commission dedicated to voter registration and education.

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