Right and Responsibility: Why You Should Vote

Macy Ghilardi, Author

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America’s democracy is facing a dilemma. Citizens are given the right to vote and choose leaders who represent their ideals, yet young people aren’t voting like they used to. In fact, many aren’t voting at all.

Passed and ratified in 1971, the 26th amendment lowered the national voting age from 21 to 18 years old. According to CBS, during the 1972 presidential election between Nixon and McGovern – a mere year after the ratification – a record 52% of individuals between the ages of 18-21 cast their vote. Commonly attributed to the excitement towards their new rights, America’s younger generations flocked to the polls to partake in the nation’s democracy. 

Today, that same frenzy has died out. According to PBS, only 40% of 18-29 year olds are “sure to” vote in the upcoming 2020 election. To break the numbers down, that’s 21 million people out of an age bracket which holds about 54 million. Even so, many still may not end up casting their vote. The United States Census reports there were only two instances where midterm voting from young Americans turnout surpassed 20%: 1986 and 1994, both with 21%.  

 No matter what your beliefs, your vote is significant – young people make up about half of America’s total voters. When you turn up the opportunity to vote in any election, you are throwing in the towel on your civic responsibility to elect those who may take actions which are important to you, or causes you care greatly for. Furthermore, many countries do not host open elections, even to this day. The United States allows an opportunity many long for.

Innumerable accumulations of Americans believe that their individual vote does not count in the grand scheme of elections. According to Youth Service America Organization, nearly 20% of 18-29 year olds feel no matter for whom their ballot appoints, corruptness and greed will remain in power, with nothing able to stop them; therefore, hordes of people avoid polling centers altogether. In actuality, dozens of elections around the nation have been decided by a handful of votes in only the past 20 years: According to NPR, Baltimore’s 2018 Democratic primary was decided by just 17 votes; Vermont’s Senate Democratic primary in 2016 was cinched by only a single vote; a Virginia State House seat was determined in 1991 by – you guessed it – one person’s decision.

Each citizen who votes in a local, state, or federal election creates a stronger nation, and prevents a minority from dictating the majority. The act is crucial to a thriving nation, and, slowly, percentages are improving – in no way exponentially. Research conducted at the University of Texas at Austin concluded that only 63% of Americans who are registered to vote chose to do so in 2016, during such a pivotal and diverse election with undoubtedly high stakes.

In total, only 72% of age-eligible Americans are registered, even though the process has become more accessible in many states. Taking place in 2015, many states began allowing people of age to register and pre-register to vote online in hopes of increasing voter turnout in the younger age bracket. This service, in turn, reached more people nationally than conventional voting registration methods; Washington Post reports that online registration only requires all of two minutes, producing an effective and favorable approach. A year later, despite the national upsurge in accessibility, voter turnout didn’t reach the standards many had hoped for, with less than 65% of those registered to vote actually traveling to the polls.

The younger generation is an integral component to solving this demanding matter; therefore, they’re needed to solve this scrape.

According to Mass.gov, Massachusetts residents may pre-register to vote at the age of 16, going into full eligibility to practice at 18. Registration can either be completed online, by mail, or in-person at any election office, Election Division of the Commonwealth’s office, or even at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. To mail an application, you must download, print, complete, and sign the registration form; afterward, it must be addressed and mailed to your local election official. You may locate the address of your local election official on Mass.gov, as well as the downloadable registration form. When completed online, your form is automatically directed to your local election official. Once recognized and approved by the official, you will receive a letter in the mail confirming your eligibility to now practice your right to vote. If pre-registering, you will receive a letter confirming this as well.

With a more contemporary process now enacted to help everyone register, there is little justification for absenteeism at the polls. Your vote and your voice are both critical to making this nation stronger, no matter what your beliefs may hold. Margins of voting signal to winners of elections just how much work they have to do, and how crucially the nation desires change. If you judge America as in desperate need of modifications, heavily consider registering to vote as soon as your are eligible to do so. If you think America is fine, register to vote. If you have no motivation to partake in our democracy, register to vote. As vocalized by Enlightened English philosopher and Father of Liberalism John Locke, people are, by nature, free. Voting is the natural right of the self-governed; therefore, it is our civil liberty as American citizens, as well as our duty, to uphold the system which endures such freedoms.