The Privilege of Voting – A First for Many Students

Tomorrow is Election Day, the great opportunity for all of us as citizens to participate directly in the choice of who is going to govern us, from the President of the United States down to our local officials. For many of you, this may be the first time you have had the opportunity to vote – the right has been guaranteed to anyone 18 or older by Constitutional amendment since 1971.

One great beauty of the American system is that your vote is your own. No one can tell you how to vote. No one has the right to know how you voted. You can broadcast your choice enthusiastically, or you can keep it completely secret, and all your fellow citizens must respect your decision.

This is a good time to consider the value of your education in your practice of citizenship. Our emphasis on the liberal arts here at Miami is based on the understanding that this education is designed to help you succeed as free persons and citizens who participate in the organization of their own society. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”

If you are voting for the first time this year, welcome to a lifetime of civic engagement and sharing with your fellow citizens the great responsibility and privilege of shaping our common future together. Please keep in mind the value of your Miami education in helping you make those choices now and in the future.

Love and Honor,