Youth Not In The Booths

People voting in polling place

RACHEL FINKELSTEIN

We hear a lot today about candidates trying to attract millennials for the upcoming presidential election. I, as a true millennial (born in 2000), can say that we are definitely peaking an interest. Topics like the cost of college and employment concern us, and are being addressed in debates, forums, and rallies. Americans who are under the age of eighteen are able to support, donate, and even work or volunteer for a candidate’s campaign. For example, a twelve year old boy is running one of Donald Trump’s campaign offices.

However, adults have even more opportunity for input, as they can vote. The right for citizens to decide who they want their own leader to be is not something every country can boast. Although it is a right, it is a true privilege when we consider how much we can control our government compared to other places in the world. Still, some take this right for granted. “I forgot,” “I didn’t have time,” and “My vote won’t matter anyways,” are excuses for “I didn’t care enough to remember,” “I didn’t make the time,” and simply, “I don’t care.”

From the time I was in elementary school, it was pounded into our minds that we should vote when we are old enough. Every election day, we were given bright neon-colored stickers to wear that read REMEMBER TO VOTE to remind the people coming to our school to take advantage of their right. Election booths are located in nearby schools and other designated areas all across the U.S. (oh, and it’s free!) making it accessible and convenient for all citizens to vote. There are issues with being able to register, but for registered voters – you have no excuse!

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As pointed out, not all people decide to vote. Only 57.5% of eligible voters showed up in the polls for the last presidential election in 2012. Although Hurricane Sandy must have had a large impact on this low statistic, only 62.3% came around in 2008, which although higher, is still unacceptable. This staggering number has inspired me to educate and remind people of the importance of voting. So relating back to the youth’s opportunities in the upcoming election, my question is how can I encourage adults to vote?

If a young person has no interest in publicly declaring the candidate, party, or political importances he/she identifies with, but still wants to encourage voters, some states are out of luck. In New York, for example, no one under the age of eighteen is allowed to work the booths or even volunteer at the polls. This is discouraging, considering that ten years ago wearing a sticker was my only political power, and since then, it still seemingly is. And maybe this article will educate readers on the importance of voting, but I know that more people will have seen the sticker I was wearing than will read this article in my school newspaper.

But to once again enlighten the people who are reading this, every vote matters. If everyone thought that their vote did not matter, than we would have no election. And to quote Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” Besides that, people have risked as much as their lives to have a say in their government. Susan B. Anthony was imprisoned for illegally voting because she was a woman. Without her, women might potentially not have had the right to vote today, let alone have one of our nominees be a woman. So although this might be the most I will be able to express for this election, I hope this will change in the future and that the people who have read this will have understood the importance of voting.