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Be the change you want to see

Sydney Cooper, Editor-in-Chief

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Voting has been ingrained into me since a young age. As long as I can remember, my mother has taken my sister and me to the polls each and every local, state, and national election.

I recall sitting at the kids’ table and filling out each bubble. When I was younger, my choice was made by who had the funniest name, yet as I got older my decisions had become more educated and thought through.

Even though I knew my vote meant nothing, it was important for me to be able to express my educated opinion about government officials.

However, not everyone expresses the same love and admiration as I do for democracy and the importance of voting.

When the 2016 election results came out, I wasn’t upset with the outcome because of who was elected, more so I was upset with the numbers. Out of the entire country, only 28.5% of eligible voters actually voted. Less than a third of the nation decided our country’s fate.

In countries such as Belgium, Sweden, and South Korea, voter turnout was as high as 88% in 2014. Why can’t the U. S. match these numbers?

There are many reasons for this stark contrast including gerrymandering, voter apathy, and a lack of education on politics. However, the most prominent issue that turns many young voters away from the polls is the increase of hyper-partisanship.

Throughout American history, mainly two political parties have been pitted against each other during election time. Currently, we have the Democrats and the Republicans.

Despite what George Washington thought, the idea of political parties in itself is not a bad concept. However, the level of partisanship to the extreme of party over country creates a culture that does not inspire young people who may not identify solely with one party or their values to vote.

In fact, the idea that a person can simply vote straight party on a ballot oftentimes takes the due diligence out of the process. Why is it that people will vote on party lines even though they have not educated themselves on the person? Why should citizens be able to make assumptions about policy simply because of the animal that is represented next to the name on the ballot?

It shouldn’t be about which party is holding office, but rather the people who hold the office who feel the duty to debate, consider other points of view, and come to a compromise when warranted.

But despite the many reasons that may exist not to vote, voting is our civic duty that was granted to us via the Constitution and not using that right as an American citizen goes against everything that our country has fought to keep.

Perhaps an increase in young voters is exactly what this country needs. We need to lose the idea that it is one party against the other but instead cultivate the idea of all citizens coming together to bubble in the candidate that doesn’t have the funniest last name, but the one who will make our country better than the years before. 

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