Educate, Evaluate, Vote

Jackson Lamb

Voting. A concept well known by all Americans, as it should be, considering that many things about this country are decided by elections. President, judges, mayors, and governors are all voted upon by the general population; and if not, they are decided by elected officials.

Considering how much of our country’s government revolves around voting and elections, wouldn’t it make sense for Americans to make their opinions heard through ballots?

Do you believe you should be heard? Do you believe that if you don’t agree with what’s happening in our country you should have a say in that matter? This is why it’s important to vote. Because no matter what you’ve written on social media, no matter how many times you hear people talk about it in the halls, on campus, at work, or at home – one crucial way to help create change and to have influence on our country is by voting.

After reading the previous paragraphs, you may think that your one vote really doesn’t make a difference. You may think so many people vote that America will be just fine without your vote. This is simply not the case. Every single vote counts. An election might be decided by a single vote, and history would be changed because a person got…or lost…that one vote!

Don’t believe me? Here are some important events in U.S. history that were decided by just a few votes:

Richard Nixon, not John F. Kennedy, would have become President of the U.S. in 1960 if one person from each voting place had voted differently.

If just one U.S. Senator had voted differently, President Andrew Johnson would have been removed from office in 1867.

Texas might not have become part of the United States in 1845 if one U.S. Senator had voted differently. The vote in the U.S. Senate was twenty-seven to twenty-five to invite Texas to become a state. If it had been a tie, Texas would not have been asked to become part of the Union.

The era of politics we are moving through in today’s America desperately needs young voters. Key issues in every election increasingly relate to the concerns of students and professionals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine. This means it is essential for members within that age group to educate themselves on political issues and take to the polls. College debt and a lack of jobs have dealt some of the most crippling blows to the financial futures of many young voters. Though unemployment rates have declined, and this generation found their footing in a new economy, policy change and reform in areas affecting college students, such as debt forgiveness and healthcare, are as crucial now as they were in previous years.

The situation won’t be changed by sitting idle while others make major political decisions. Youth voters who want to inspire change need to show their support for the candidates whom they feel best represent their needs. No one else is going to vote in the interest of young people except young people.

Not only that, but young voters are an incredibly diverse group. The divisive nature of partisan politics is alive and well among young voters in today’s world. So much so that the millennial electorate is expected to be the first demographic group with the ability to challenge the basic two-party system. They will potentially drive the need for alternative political parties whom millennials feel can represent the needs of a diverse population with a more inclusive agenda.

The same young adults in 2016 who were more likely to identify as liberals were also less likely to identify as Democrats. Also, of note, at thirty-five percent, a higher percentage of young voters identified with independent political views, rather than Republican or Democrat, than in the past three presidential elections.

Voting is an essential aspect of American democracy. When we turn a blind eye to the voting process, we become more and more undemocratic. Citizens of many countries complain about the world around them, and many don’t have to option to change that world. However, you do. The youth of America have the power to make decisions that can affect the country. If you don’t like the way America is run, and yet you don’t vote in elections or make your opinions heard, then you, not the government, is at fault.

But you CAN make a difference in the electorate! Here’s how:

Play a role in choosing our leaders and changing our laws by voting. If you’re eighteen or older, vote in every federal, state, and local election. Learn about the candidates and issues before you vote in any election. Know what’s going on in your country and community. Write letters to public officials about issues that are important to you. Remind everyone eighteen and older to vote. Respect your right to vote! It’s a privilege that many people in the world don’t have!

Jackson is a music education sophomore. He is originally from Zebulon, Georgia. He is a proud member of the LaGrange College Marching Panthers and the LSO stage crew.

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