Today is an important day… no, relax this isn‘t another column on why you should vote… ok so today is an important day, today is your chance to voice your opinion and have a say in how things work, are and will be.

Today you decide what your tomorrow will be like. (Ok I lied, it’s about voting.)

Yeah vote. Get informed and pick the one you agree with.

The San Jose mayoral race is hotly contested, the gubernatorial candidates are campaigning to the wire, and various state offices, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate seats are up for grabs.

Aside from decided who gets the cushy chairs, there are 11 statewide and a handful of local propositions to consider.

I don’t care who or what you vote for, but if you want a “license to bitch,” then you better read up, learn something and do your civic duty, but don’t do it because everyone is telling you to, do it because it means something to you and you understand it.

I think the problem with this country is that the ones affected most by the governments actions, namely the youth, do not vote. And politicians know that we are not a large voting block so they do not pay attention to us, because it is true.

When we are young we don’t care because we will live forever and nothing can hurt us and doing anything like voting only helps “the man.”

What we fail to realize is that by voting we are not helping the politicians, but we are hurting ourselves and taking the air out of our voice.

It’s simple, if we want to be paid attention to then we need to vote in a large enough block to be paid attention to.

What ends up happening is that our America is a vision of the ideal and beliefs of a generation in their 40s and 50s… they vote so they decide for us how our America will be shaped. Does that sound right to you?

A youth vote allows us to live in an era shaped by our ideals and not those of a bygone generation. You want the government to pay attention to tuition, abortion, gay marriage, minimum wage, technology, housing, social aid, and other issues common among college campuses, then you must make the politicians vying for voters pay attention to us, and there’s only one way to do that.

Voting is the foundation of the freedom we enjoy in this country, without this right we have no voice, and without a voice we have nothing. Don’t be silent today.

Lastly if you think one vote does not make a difference, I leave you with this:

· In 2000 George W. Bush won Florida’s electoral votes to give him the victory in the presidential election by 537 votes out of 5,861,785 votes cast.

· In 1996 Ron Wyden won election to the U.S. Senate from Oregon by one percent of the vote.

· Patty Cafferata defeated Bob Kerns in the 1980 primary election for a Nevada Assembly seat by one vote. Her margin of victory may have been larger if at least three of her family members hadn’t forgotten to vote!

· A tie vote in a 1978 race for the Pennsylvania Legislature resulted in neither party having a majority. A recount broke the tie and gave control of the House to the Democrats.

· In 1977 the mayor of Ann Arbor, Michigan was elected by one vote.

· In the 1974 New Hampshire Senatorial race, Louis Wyman appeared to be the winner by 542 votes. But after a recount, John Durkin was certified the winner by 10 votes. Still later, the decision was reversed and Wyman was declared the winner by two votes. After a year of court battles and controversy, a special election was held; Durkin won.

· John F. Kennedy won the presidency by one vote per precinct in Illinois in 1960.

· Woodrow Wilson was elected President in 1916 by winning California with a margin of three-tenths of one percent of the vote.

· Marcus Morton was elected Governor of Massachusetts in 1839 by one vote out of 102,066 cast.

Important decisions that affect us all have been made because of one vote.

· In 1997, just one vote in the Texas legislature passed the Texas Ten Percent Plan that created a more egalitarian admission criteria for the University of Texas system.

· Women won the right to vote in 1920 by the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Tennessee, the last state needed to pass the amendment, ratified the amendment by one vote.

· One vote in the Electoral College elected Rutherford B. Hayes to the presidency in 1876.

· One vote in the Senate saved President Andrew Johnson from impeachment conviction in 1868.

· One vote in an important Congress gave statehood to Texas in 1845.

Voter turnout makes a difference.

· In the presidential election of 2000, only one out of every three eligible 18-24 year olds voted.

· The turnout in Election 2000 was one of the four lowest in the last 20 presidential elections.

· Massachusetts ranked 14th in voter turnout in the nation in Election 2000.

· The highest voter turnout in a presidential election between 1924 and 2000 was in 1960.

· In 1960, 75% of the voting-age population in Massachusetts voted. In 2000, that number had dropped to 58%.

If you’re not sure what polling place to go to here’s a link that can help you find the one you’re registered for.