As November approaches so does the ceremonious occasion of my first vote. While many view midterm elections as insignificant or a waste of time, those of us who have yet to enter the voting booth see it as belated birthday gift. While voter registration has steadily risen, the number of people who vote has decreased. Nowadays, the right to vote is rarely seen as a right. It is taken for granted and often viewed more as an obligation. Adults so easily forget that our forefathers gave their lives just so people would be elected, not appointed.
Since my 18th birthday, nothing has happened to remind me that I am now a legal adult. Although the temptation to run out and get a tattoo remains, my newly established maturity tells me just because I can, doesn’t mean I should. This motto does not apply to voting though. It is the main perk of turning 18, knowing that we now have the power to make a difference and be heard. Voting is a right that as people age they view it more as a formality, similar to how the thrill of driving wears off not long after turning 16.
Many people wake up on Nov. 7 to find that between daycare, errands and work they don’t have time to stop at the polls. Excuses, however valid, can’t compete with the fact that who is chosen will make a vital impact on people’s lives for years to come. Living in Utah, with its dependable political turnout, leaves many feeling that their vote doesn’t matter. If everyone thinks this way then no one will vote. This year, with the congressional races being so close and so crucial, every vote matters. The best representation of how crucial one vote is was the Gore/Bush election in Florida. Thousands of people regretted not voting when they found out each vote made a difference.
Some, especially those who will be voting for the first time, don’t show up to the polls because they forgot to register. It takes little or no effort and there are countless organizations putting in the time to make sure everyone gets the chance to express their views. Online registration is available and there are forms in the post offices and grocery stores. If you have not yet registered, there will be satellite registration booths set up in Summit County on Oct. 20 and 23. For those who don’t have the time to leave their house, go to lwvutah.org or leaveyourprint.com to find out voting places, issues, and how to register. In the 2004 elections only 34 percent of people age 18 to 24 voted. Why such a low number? Registration is fairly easy and painless, plus celebrities and teen icons all rallied around the election trying to get teens to vote.
One commonly heard excuse for why the young people are wary of casting their vote is that they are unsure of the issues and where the candidates stand. This is especially tricky with mid-term elections where there are fewer speeches and less media coverage. For students, government teachers are a great source. If they aren’t discussing it already, most are more than happy to fill students in on the issues and candidates. For those who are out of school, the aforementioned sites have information as does The Park Record.
So this Nov. 7, remember the first time you voted, when it represented something far greater than yourself, and vote again!
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“Where will we get the water, sewage treatment, police, fire, city services, broadband capacity and green power? How will we stop the gridlock that will result from all this expansion?” asks Victor Janulaitis.