LAUREN GANTENBEIN | FEATURES EDITOR
Not too long ago we lived in a world where our parents were the only ones who were able to get an ‘I voted’ sticker. We merely voted in our schools’ elections, and the only political conversation we heard was from our parents or some kid spouting out what his parents’ political beliefs were.
In fall of 2012, I was disappointed. Disappointed that I was only 17-and-a-half and that I would be unable to vote in the upcoming election, even though I was only six months away from the legal age. I come from a family that is very enthusiastic about politics. Because most people on my mom’s side of the family are lawyers, I attended my first political rally at five years old, much to the dismay of my grandma. We also talk about politics almost every night at dinner, and I can remember every presidential election night at my house was full of anticipation and awe. Politics are something that I have grown up with, and I am grateful that my parents raised me not to think like them but rather to make my own decisions and to use my right to vote in what I believe to be best.
However, in the fall of 2012, I was also disappointed because I realized how some people simply did not care or were uninformed about the presidential election. I had some friends who were eligible to vote, and they did not know who the candidates were or what the candidates’ beliefs were and were either going to vote for whom their parents were voting for or were not going to vote at all. One of the best things about living in the U.S. is our right to vote for our leader. It is foolish to not do your research and vote for the candidate who you think will do the best job running our country.
In 2012, only 62.4 percent of qualifying Americans voted in the presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. That means almost 40 percent of our nation’s adult population did not vote. It is a staggering number that proves many people within our country simply do not care, are too lazy or do not know enough about politics to vote. As the newest generation of voters, it should be our goal to get voter turnout rates to be higher than ever before for young people. The issues of college debt, health care, taxes and immigration are issues that we as young people should care about.
It is important to not only vote in presidential elections but to also vote in statewide or even citywide elections. Everyone has an opinion, and it is our right as U.S. citizens to voice our vote in elections. Watch the Snapchat stories that cover the election, watch the debates, read articles on reliable news websites and talk about the upcoming election in class, with your roommates or with your family. Do not rely on Facebook to be your only source of information for the election, do not just vote who your parents or your friends are voting for and do not only look at one side of the spectrum. Be informed, stick to your beliefs and be excited about exercising the major American right of voting.