Tuesday, November 2, 2010

You CAN make a difference--VOTE

You might have heard, there’s an election today. Or maybe you haven’t.

I know when I was a student at The Ohio State University, the only midterms I was worried about were exams. Looking back, I realize that I missed an opportunity to make a difference: to make a difference in how the job market would look when I graduated; in whether or not I’d be covered by health insurance; or if the United States would be going to war. All because I didn’t vote.

I wasn’t alone. Midterm elections historically have low turnouts. In fact, in 2006 only 25 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds voted. That’s a shame because choosing who sits in Congress is just as important as who sits in the White House.

The members of Congress we vote for in midterm elections are the ones who debate the policies that shape our country. They represent us and are our voices nationally. It’s our job to make sure the candidates who best represent us get into office and fight for the issues we care about.

For me, the big issues this election are the economy and the future of scientific research.
Scientific and medical research is a big driver of the economy, creating jobs and bringing money to the state – especially in a state with a huge research university like OSU. In fact, last year Ohio received more than $1 billion in funding from four federal health agencies for research.

Americans consistently describe both health and research as important, yet just 8 percent say they are well-informed about their elected officials’ positions on these issues. That’s not how it should be! If health and research are so important, they should be at the forefront of our voting decisions.

As a fellow at Research!America, I’ve been working on Your Candidates – Your Health, an online voter education initiative designed to fill the information gap. Every candidate for Congress has been invited to complete a questionnaire addressing health and research issues.

This website is a tool to inform voters like you of how candidates feel about the importance of research and the role it plays in the economy and improving our health—before the elections.

So visit the site to see what your candidates think. Let your candidates know that these topics are important to you and our country, and urge them to answer the questions if they haven’t already.

Your vote is your voice. November 2nd is your chance to speak up.

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