The U.S. was founded on the principles of democratic participation that guaranteed the right of all citizens to have a roll in shaping government and the rule of law. It took almost two centuries to deliver on the guarantees in our Constitution, especially to women and people of color, but now we face a new challenge - the majority of young people don't vote. Why is youth voting important? Read on to find eight (of many reasons) that teens should register to vote when they are 17 and vote when they are 18 - your vote matters!
1. You can 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 could stay out as late as you wanted to? 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. You should be the one to shape your future
On a similar point, you guys should be the ones to shape your futures. Most adults don't understand the teen perspective. They are confused by our high tech era, our fashion, our interests. If you fail to vote, you are yielding the ultimate power to adults to make decisions about the leaders and laws that will shape and lead society for decades, and you can be sure that those decisions won't be congruent with the teen psyche and perspective.
3. Voting is an important right
Think about all the countries in the world that don't have democratic political institutions - countries like Syria, the Congo, and Cuba. In such countries, citizens are denied the right to vote and have their voice heard, and they don't even 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?
4. If you don't vote, you lose your right to complain
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 demonstrates your good faith attempt 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!
5. Don't be a voting slacker
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 Gen Z to change this. We must revitalize the American democracy and show the older generations the importance of voting by casting our own votes.
6. It's an important skill to learn
You'll be voting for the rest of your life. Casting well-considered votes is something you will want to teach to your friends, family, and children, so why not start 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. No more hanging chads.
7. 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? Committing to voting is a shortcut to greater engagement in the political world around you. It will keep you connected with the news as you follow politicians and key policy initiatives.
8. You just should!
Don't waive your right to vote. Register. Follow the news. And, when election day comes around, cast your ballot.
Now, more than ever, it is essential that young people take advantage of their right to vote, creating a future that aligns with their fundamental beliefs and setting a precedent for future generations.