Luckily, I’ve become a bit more educated on the subject.
This year was the first time I was able to vote. I turned 18 last November, just a few days after the cut-off for that election. I was bummed out. I wanted so badly to drive over to the polls and stand in a voting booth. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen this year either, because I filled out an absentee ballot from my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. It was kind of like Voting Lite.
I soon realized when I scanned the ballot that there was a lot I didn’t know about. For one thing, I’ve missed out on all of the crazy political ads that come every year, so I barely recognized most of the names sitting on the ballot. While I believe myself to be a pretty staunch supporter of one party, I knew I wasn’t going to just fill a straight ticket for that party. I sat down for over an hour researching each candidate to make sure I was really voting for who I wanted in office, making decisions for my state.
The hardest part was voting for district judge—there were 21 candidates. I barely knew how to begin. Surprisingly enough, not all the candidates had easily accessible web pages so it was difficult for me to find what these people stood for. I even read an article from a local TV station which cited a poll saying more than half of 768 attorneys in Louisville didn’t know 14 of the district judge candidates. I feel like this is a whole other can of worms that needs to be handled somehow.
It’s funny when I think about it—over the next few years, I’ll only be living in Kentucky over the summers. But still, I knew that I wanted what was best for the people that live there, and certain things can still affect me. I guess it just blows my mind that there are still young adults who don’t understand the importance of voting.
What’s promising is that I did notice many of the people I went to high school with posting on social media how important voting is, and encouraging everyone to go out to the polls. I even saw a Facebook status cycling around from my comparative politics teacher from senior year: “To my former students, not voting is quite simply not an option. If I taught you anything, I taught you this,” it began. It comforts me to know that I was in a peer group that encouraged such civic engagement, and I know that partly influenced my attitude on the subject today.
Hopefully more and more of my peers will soon come to understand the importance of their voice in elections. Younger people are less likely to participate in elections as a whole—just imagine what change we could implement if we all got out to vote. Voting gives you a voice. Not only a voice in deciding who will be in charge, but also a voice to speak against problems in the government when they arise. Think about it—if you don’t vote, do you really have the right to complain about something you could’ve been a part of stopping? While there are plenty of things to argue about in our country, plenty of things that are wrong, the right to vote is one thing we’ve finally got right, and something we should all be taking advantage of when the time comes.