By Grace Masback
WANT Original Content
National Voter Registration Day is September 22nd and WANT is part of a national campaign coordinated through the Bus Project and Rock the Vote to get all eligible (17 and over) high schoolers registered to vote. Over the next couple of weeks we will be running a variety of unique content about youth voting, the history of voting rights, and why voting matters. So, why is youth voting important? Isn’t registering to vote just an unneeded hassle? No! Read on to find nine (of many reasons) that teens should register to vote when they are 17 and vote when they are 18 – your vote matters!
1. Teens like to be in charge
How many times have you wished your parents couldn’t tell you what to do? That you could choose what you studied in school? That you didn’t have to do your homework? Voting gives you the power to make important choices. You get to decide what you like and don’t like and let your voice be heard.
2. Teens should be the ones to shape their future
On a similar point, you guys should be the ones to shape your futures. Elections decide the laws and leaders that will shape and lead society. If you fail to vote, you are yielding the power of these decisions to people whose outlook on life may be totally different from your own – older people may put laws in place that affect your life for decades to come.
3. Many adults don’t understand the teen perspective
Adults will never fully understand and appreciate the teen perspective. They are confused by our tech-savvy era, our fashion, our interests. For this reason, if teens don’t vote it guarantees that adults who do vote will choose legislation, policy, and politicians not congruent with the teen perspective and psyche.
4. Voting is an important right
Think about all the countries in the world that don’t have democratic political institutions – countries such as Syria, The Congo, and Cuba. In such countries citizens are stripped of the right to vote and have their voice heard and they don’t have the option to shape their government and their future. We are immensely lucky to live in a country that was founded on democratic values and it’s an insult to our Founding Fathers to forgo our voting rights. You don’t want to insult our Founding Fathers, do you?
5. If you don’t vote, you could end up with politicians or laws you don’t like
If you don’t vote, you could end up with a potted plant elected President, or even worse, Donald Trump. If you choose not to vote, you automatically waive your right to complain. Voting allows you to know you did something to get the political outcome you desire, and gives you every right to complain if things don’t go your way on a key ballot measure. If you don’t vote – shut it!
6. Too many people don’t vote
Democracy doesn’t work without citizen participation, yet about 40% of Americans don’t exercise their right to vote in the general election. Even fewer vote in in primary and local elections. It’s up to our generation to change this. We must revitalize the American democracy and show the older generations the importance of voting by casting our own votes.
7. It’s an important skill to learn
You will be voting for the rest of your life. Voting is something you will want to teach to your friends, family, and children. So, why not learn now? It’s not very hard! Master the skills now so that you can begin to perfect and share this important practice in the future.
8. It helps you stay engaged with politics and current events
How many times have you wished you were more in tune with politics and current events for your history class, SAT essay, or family discussion. Voting is a failsafe for greater engagement in the political world around you. It will keep you connected with the news as you follow politicians and ballot initiatives.
9. We WANT you too!
Don’t waive your right to vote. Register. Follow the news. And when election-day comes around cast your ballot. Because we WANT you too!
Check out these other articles about the importance of voting and how to register to vote and stay tuned for more WANT content about youth voting and political engagement leading up to National Voter Registration Day!
Photo Credit: Theresa Thompson