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.
Follow Grace Masback on Twitter: www.twitter.com/grace_masback
Constitution Essay Winner
Windsor Elementary School, Windsor
Freedom, independence and knowledge: Our Constitution provides these rights. This charter is like a puzzle; with its many aspects and elements it can be difficult to understand. However, if you break it into pieces, like a jigsaw puzzle, each piece can be easily understood.
“We the people of Maine, in order to establish justice, insure tranquility, provide for our mutual defense, promote our common welfare, and secure to ourselves and our prosperity the blessings of liberty.” This affirmation is the introduction to the Maine State Constitution; it is the foundation of the life we blessedly are permitted to live. We are now free; free and independent, two things that we were once denied, now we are the beautiful State of Maine.
Times were difficult before a declaration was settled, we were part of Massachusetts, we were disorderly; there were few towns and the few people that were there struggled through the harsh winters. Since that time, things have changed. We have thrived. Maine has become independent, as well as a rather popular tourist attraction. Article 1, Section 4, gives us the freedom of speech, allowing us to be different. This article also states that there will be no law passed that prohibits any right to any one Maine citizen. All men (and women) are equal. This provides us with the chance to come together more effectively without the conflict of having extreme differences in levels of authority, allowing us all to come together onto one State of Maine. This makes up the focal portion of the puzzle.
Maine is the vacationland. We have gorgeous scenery that separates Maine from the rest of the states. Those features that make Maine one of the most beautiful states are dutifully protected. Nature is defended by Article 1X, Section 8.2 which tells that; “The Legislature shall have power to provide for the assessment of the following types of real estate whenever situated in accordance with a valuation.” This segment is specific to the protection of farms and woodlands, restitution or natural scenery, wildlife, maintaining areas, and waterfront area. This basic law has made our land paradise. Most of the puzzle is complete. All that is missing are a few pieces.
The Maine Constitution has done exceedingly sufficient work to make our State clean, beautiful and safe. Article VIII, Section 1 ensures the education of all Maine children, something which I personally find of utmost importance. The children and teenagers of Maine often refuse to learn and without this law they may not have to, but with it comes a vast wave of determination to enhance the future and provide more for the students of this State. One piece left to place.
As in all scenarios there are flaws, yet those flaws were amended so as to be more flawless than ever before. Article X is exclusive, for provisions for the better. This segment proves that no one is perfect, yet we strive to work for the better to do the best for our happiness of our people. This proves to me that we really are one state working for the greater good to help each other to be one. We are only human but we must do the best that we can do. This the last piece of the puzzle.
Now that the last piece is in place, we can finally see the whole picture, our State of Maine. The beautiful scene that it is; freedom, independence, and knowledge, all people with equal rights, all animals and landscapes unharmed all children in school with a thirst for wisdom. We have not yet accomplished this awe-inspiring feat, but we have come close and are getting closer every day. We the people of Maine are going to build perfection for ourselves and each other, for it is not about us as individuals, it is about us as one State of Maine. This puzzle, I am sure, will be finished one day.
The Importance of Voting and Democracy Essay
Scarborough High School, Scarborough
The Importance of Voting and Democracy
The importance of voting and democracy dates back to the time of ancient Greece. The ancient Romans also utilized democracy which set a precedent for future nations. For example, the United States government today closely resembles the Roman government. Voting and democracy is very important in a nation because it provides people an opportunity to voice their opinion and vote for what they believe in, it holds elected officials accountable for their behavior while in office, and it prevents a minority from dictating the policies of a majority. History, as well as the US government today, proves the importance of voting and democracy.
Voting and democracy in a nation allows people to participate in their government. People have the opportunity to vote for what they believe in. In Greece, the Athenian government was run by a direct democracy. Citizens voted directly for proposed bills and certain decisions. Their voting system was different from what we have today in the USA, but was still effective in allowing citizens to have a say. Voting was also used in Roman times and is used today as well. In order for voting to be successful, the citizens of the nation must be educated. If voters are educated on the policies they are voting for, they will understand the possible outcomes of various policies and therefore will make better decisions. For example, the Athenians voted for things like whether or not they should go to war and where a new building should be built. Because boys were educated at a young age in Athens, they were capable of making informed decisions regarding such topics. Athens’ educated population and strong democracy led them to become a powerful nation.
Voting and democracy also holds representatives accountable for the decisions they make while in office. Most representatives in Rome and all representatives in the USA, for example, did/do not serve for life terms. Instead, they serve for a certain amount of time depending on their position. Therefore, if a representative wants to run for another term, he/she must act in the best interest of the people in order to have their support in a future election. If the citizens are pleased with what the representative has to offer, they will reelect him/her. On the other hand, if a representative, such as the president, does not satisfy the needs of the people, the people will not vote for him/her for a second term. In addition, in the USA, if the president commits “treason, bribery, or other high crimes,” according to the Constitution, an impeachment process may occur. If the impeachment is carried out, the president would be removed from office. The impeachment process today is similar to the Athens’ ostracism. Ostracism was a process of banning a leader from Athens for ten years if he/she was seen as a threat of becoming a tyrant. This set the model for the US impeachment process. The US also learned from the problems that were caused by some Roman representatives that served life terms and recognized that defined terms for elected representatives were more appropriate. For these reasons, elected officials must be sure to act in the best interest of the people, otherwise they could be removed from their position. This benefits the nation as a whole.
The final reason as to why voting and democracy are important is because it prevents a minority from dictating the policies of a majority. As Pericles once said, in a democracy “power is in the hands, not of a minority, but the whole people”. The US government is set up so it acts in a manner that benefits the majority of the nation. At the same time, the US has the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is similar to Rome’s Twelve Tables. Both the Bill of Rights and the Twelve Tables were/are used to provide political and social rights to all citizens, even the minorities. By doing so, the government cannot violate the political and social rights of the people, no matter what social class they may fall in. In addition, both the US and Rome have/had a bicameral legislative branch and an executive branch. However, one of the major differences between the two is that Rome’s federal judicial branch was only on a local level, where the judicial branch in the US has both local and federal branches. The judicial branch also protects the rights of citizens. Without voting and democracy, policies that represent only a small portion of the citizens could rule our nation. The policies would not represent the opinions and objectives of the majority.
In conclusion, voting and democracy is crucial in a government because it allows people to participate in their government, holds elected representatives responsible for their decisions, and it prevents a minority from dictating the policies of a majority. As Abraham Lincoln once said, democracy is "government of, by, and for the people". This means that the citizens of a nation have the chance to run and be apart of what controls their nation. If the entire nation participates in the government, the nation will thrive.
“Democracy Quotes." The International Edowment for Democracy. N.p., Mar. 2006.
Web. 05 Mar. 2013.