Make your voice heard through voting

Only+about+58.5+percent+of+22-26+year-olds+actually+voted+in+the+most+recent+presidential+election.
Only about 58.5 percent of 22-26 year-olds actually voted in the most recent presidential election.

Only about 58.5 percent of 22-26 year-olds actually voted in the most recent presidential election.

Courtesy of @ACLUSouthDakota on Twitter

Courtesy of @ACLUSouthDakota on Twitter

Only about 58.5 percent of 22-26 year-olds actually voted in the most recent presidential election.

Julia Schwartz, Contributing Writer

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Have you ever felt like you don’t have a voice as a high schooler? That no matter what you said or who you said it to the words were just overlooked? Well, it won’t always be this way. Once you reach the ripe old age of 18, you can speak out in a monumental way. By voting.

Recently, students across the country have started to take charge and speak out against the issues that draw their attention. Victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL on Feb. 14  have been speaking to the press, forming protests and even speaking to President Trump in order to get their voices heard. On March 14, students from Solon High School participated in the national school walkout to join forces and bring attention to the issue of gun violence in light of the Parkland shooting. Students across the nation are the ones keeping the Parkland shooting in the public’s eye.

“There is one reason and one reason only that [the school shooting in Florida is] staying in the news and it’s affecting public policies,” said Solon High School history teacher Bryan Ashkettle. “That reason is because of young people getting involved with a grassroots movement.”

However, demographic studies show that millennials are not taking the time to go get their voices heard by getting out to the polls. According to the United States Census Bureau, as of Oct. 28 2016, only an estimated 20.4 percent of 18-29 year old citizens in Ohio voted overall in elections.

One of the main reasons why young people don’t vote is because they do not have enough knowledge of who or what they want to represent them in office. However this is no excuse- in this day and age it is incredibly easy to access information through smartphones. If students don’t take the initiative to be educated enough to exercise their constitutional right to vote, then they’re not taking advantage of the information that they have.

“I reached out and educated myself [about how to vote] and realized how easy it was just getting the ball rolling,” said SHS science teacher Nicole Geiger. “Then [I] felt silly that I didn’t do that as soon as I could.”

On the other hand, some students think that the issues being voted on have no impact on them at such a young age. However, the presidential candidates could have a eight year term and by that time, 18-year-olds would be around 22-26 years old with a job, taxes to pay and even a family to support. At this later point in life many political issues will impact people, which is why it’s so important for people to start getting involved at the young age of 18.

When students become educated, they should realize that a slew of political topics have an immense impact on them, such as college tuition, health care, racial issues and LGBTQA issues. Once students find issues that drive them they should do research to become more knowledgeable about the topics. Students who are very passionate about what they find should vote to support their issues to create a change in the environment around them.

This past presidential election is one example of young people not voting, yet still complaining about the events that occur. All over social media, there have been people protesting President Trump and the decisions that he makes. However, only about 58.5 percent of 22-26 year olds actually voted in this presidential election. The rest of this age group most likely didn’t see the point in voting because the Electoral College picks our president regardless of the popular vote. But the job of the Electoral College is to properly represent the people that vote for them. So if students vote then the representatives in the Electoral College will be supporting the beliefs of the people that vote for them.

There are many examples throughout history of young people shaking things up in the political arena. For example, young people made a change during the Vietnam War in regards to the 26th Amendment which gives 18-year-olds the right to vote. A youth voting rights movement occurred during this time, when young men who were 18 years of age were drafted for the war yet were unable to legally vote.

After this issue was brought to light by the Oregon v. Mitchell Supreme Court Case (which ruled that states can control the ages of people who vote on local elections but not federal elections) Congress ratified the amendment. One, of many, people empowered by this ratification was former White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry. He was an 18 year old who fought in the Vietnam War but was too young to vote for the leader who sent him there. Once this law was ratified McCurry and many others took advantage of their newfound voting right.

The ratification of the 26th Amendment shows that change can occur when students take a stand for what they believe in. If 18-year-olds around the world want to make a change of this caliber then they need to go out and vote. If Congress decided that “the right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied” then why would any 18 year old deny themselves that right?

 

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