Texas is dead last in the nation in voter turnout, according to census data (see “Push to the Polls” in Features), and the problem is even worse among younger Texans — a paltry 27.3 percent of college-age Texans  made it to the polls in the 2016 presidential election.

In midterm elections, the problem is even worse. Only 11 percent of Texans aged 18 to 24 reported voting in the 2014 midterms, a stark contrast to the more than half of Texans above 65 who reported voting.

When reported in these terms, the problem is clear: We as young people don’t vote. But we should — even in midterm elections. We are the age group who should care the most about the decisions our lawmakers make about our future. Whether you’re worried about the national debt, the social safety net or our national defense, our future depends on who we elect to lead our city, state and nation.

This week is your last chance to make sure you have a voice in your future. To register, reach out to members of Civic Duty Rice, the Center for Civic Leadership or Rice University Young Democrats for a voter registration form. Each organization has been active in making sure Rice students are registered to vote (see “Push to the Polls”). Mail your application by Tuesday, Oct. 9, and don’t forget to vote on Nov. 6. 

If you’re a U.S. citizen eligible to vote, and you live in Texas — even if you’re just here for school — you’re eligible to vote here, according to the Texas secretary of state. And this year, Texas is a swing state — upstart Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke is running for Senate, and he’s in a tight race with incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz.

Twenty percent of non-voting young people reported that they simply weren’t interested in casting a ballot in 2016. If you’re in that population, we have a message for you: Get interested, because this time, your voice will be more crucial than ever.