Last semester, I was assigned a This I Believe essay. This I Believe essays are short essays people write on their beliefs (duh) that are read on Sundays on National Public Radio. I submitted my essay to be reviewed for reading, but alas, it got rejected. Apparently they get a lot of essays about youth rights and don’t want any repeats ;). Since NPR dissed my essay, I figured I’d post it here.
Last year, my tenth grade government class held a mock election during the presidential primaries. I was really into it, everyone was. We checked the polls everyday and debated the issues. I researched the candidates; I knew what they stood for and what they stood against. I cast my ballot. But it doesn’t matter who I voted for. It doesn’t matter who won.
That’s because mock elections don’t matter. My opinions, my thoughts don’t matter. My government class’s opinions and thoughts don’t matter. That’s because my tenth grade government class can’t vote. Despite the fact that we knew the issues and the candidates, we couldn’t vote, despite the fact that we really cared about what happened. Despite that the results of the election definitely affect us. The 18-25 demographic has a notoriously low turnout. Is it possible that this could this stem from all the years they were told their opinions didn’t matter?
I believe that the youth of this nation deserve a basic right as citizens of this nation. They deserve the right to vote.
Elections affect me. Elections affect my friends. We work. We pay taxes. But we can’t vote. To me, that sounds like taxation without representation. All we can do is sit by and watch as the deficit grows larger, as gas prices rise, as prices on everything go up. We can only watch helplessly as the future is decided.
In Ohio, the voter turnout for the 2008 primary elections was only 46%. Not even half. The turnout in other places was even more pathetic. If the voting age was lowered that turnout would go up. The earlier people start to vote the more likely they are to make a habit of voting, increasing voter turnout for their entire lives.
I care about this nation. I have opinions and thoughts that need to be heard. I have ideas for solutions to what this country is facing. So do other young people. But our opinions, thoughts, ideas, and cares go unheard. I believe that this needs to be fixed. I believe in the rights of youth.