Eligible to vote? Then do it.

The 2020 presidential election will take place Tuesday, Nov. 3.  According to USA Today, it is estimated that 62% of eligible voters will participate in this election.  While this is expected to be the highest voter turnout in more than a century, it also means that approximately 91 million of those eligible voters will choose not to vote.

Even though the 2016 and current elections have proven to be tense, the youth of America have become indifferent to politics. The New York Times states that less than 50% of Americans from the ages of 18 to 29 voted in the 2016 presidential election.

So why should you vote?

To put it simply, the decisions of elected government officials have a direct impact on the lives of every American.  For example, 2020 presidential candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump each have very different environmental plans, such as whether or not to rejoin the Paris Agreement, an accord made to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change  Trump announced his plan to withdraw from the agreement on June 1, 2017.  The choices they make will go on to affect the air all of us breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, and the money we spend.  These are not matters to be taken lightly.  It is especially important for young people to stay informed and form opinions on these affairs as well.  While the decisions made now might not affect the youth of America right at the moment, it will absolutely impact their lives in the future, along with the lives of their children and grandchildren.

“I know that my voice will make an impact,” senior Madison Isaacs said.  “I want to have a say on who is in office.”

It’s also necessary to keep in mind that the ideals of the nation rest upon the ability to choose our leaders.

“Some countries don’t have the right to vote,” senior Hank Veeneman said.  “I’m performing that right.”  Americans need to use their privilege to select government officials who will maintain peace, security, and equality throughout the United States.  If Americans stop exercising their right to vote, the democracy that many have worked so hard to maintain may crumble and fall into a dictatorship. Voting helps prevent that.

Some may argue that many citizens, especially young people, should not vote because they are not well-informed about the issues the country faces.  However, it is fairly easy to educate oneself about these topics.  With one quick internet search, it is easy to find thousands of credible articles related to politicians and upcoming elections.  The only problem is that without having the knowledge to sort through the credibility, many media sources can be biased and untrustworthy.  There are ways to get around this, though.  It is always advisable to fact-check the news.  In addition to this, you can go to mediabiasfactcheck.com to check and see if a news source is reliable.  You can also go to www.vote411.org to get nonbiased information on candidates for public office. The League of Women Voters publishes the platforms of each candidate from local to national government that are the words of the candidate from the candidate and not from a third party. 

“I read the news whenever it’s available,” senior William Garvin said.  “I think I know enough to vote… It’s important for young people to go out and vote.”

In a recent Milestone survey, one student said that they did not consider voting in the presidential election to be important, since the Electoral College ultimately decides and not the American voters.  It’s  true that the Electoral College makes the final decision on the outcome of the election; for example, in 2016, the Electoral College voted Donald Trump in as the president despite Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote.  However, on July 6, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that states can require the Electoral College to choose the winner of the state’s popular vote.  While some states have not yet enforced this rule, most electors usually don’t go against the popular candidate of the citizens.

Americans can often take for granted the many rights they have.  Freedom of speech and the right to vote are two ideals that have lost some of their value in the modern world, but are increasingly important for the survival of democracy.  So make sure to stay informed, voice your opinion, and most importantly, get out and vote!

In February of 2020, Director of the Clermont County Board of Elections Julia Carney gives a presentation about the voting process at the McNicholas Library.  The visit was organized by librarian Chelsea Almer, who helps spread awareness in the library on how to vote via displays, Schoology posts, books on the topic, and guest speakers.  “The best way to make our voices heard is to put legislators in place that are working toward our belief system, for what we would like to see in the world,” Almer said.

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