Young, hungry and registered to vote

Pilar Valdes, Art Director

When I was younger, I would fake sick every election day so that my mom would have to take me with her when she voted. Since I was young, the people at the polling place let me go into the voting booth with her, and if I was really lucky, she would sometimes let me push the buttons.

I love voting, and I’m not even old enough to vote yet. As of Oct. 25, 2018, there are 192 days until I can register to vote. There is a short list of things I am going to do on my eighteenth birthday—including getting a tattoo and piercing my nose (sorry Mom)—but, most importantly, I am registering to vote. I am more than disappointed that I cannot vote in the midterms this year, but I am heartened knowing that my eligible classmates are rushing to the polls. Our generation is one of the most politically conscious and active generations this nation has ever seen, and our true power lies in our vote.

No matter your political alignment, your voice matters and deserves to be heard. The same goes for your age. Just because you are only 17 or 18 years old doesn’t mean you can’t have a well-informed opinion about politics. Policy impacts young people just as much as it impacts older people, so they should be able to have just as much say in who gets to craft those policies. That is why the youth vote is so crucial: why should a 65-year-old man decide what I get to do with my body? By encouraging the youth vote, more young candidates will run and in turn, there will be more policy that actually represents the people who will be alive to see it enacted, and the people it will actually affect.

I agree that sometimes young people are misinformed. But generally, the kids who are misinformed are not the ones rushing to the polls. Not to mention, that argument is very weak considering that age does not necessarily equate itself with ignorance. Just as there are young people that are misinformed, there are older people with the same level of misinformation. So why are they somehow more qualified to vote simply because they have been alive longer?

Just because I am a teenager does not mean I don’t know what I’m talking about. The mindset that teenagers shouldn’t have an opinion on politics, or that their opinion is invalid because of their age, is toxic. It causes young people to be discouraged and strengthens the already rampant culture of political apathy that exists in the United States today. If anything, teens should be encouraged to form a political opinion. Squashing any views or ideals that a teen has as being “idealistic” simply because they are a teenager only leads to political apathy among young people, which is the last thing this country needs.

Everyone’s opinion matters. Taking teens and young people’s opinions for granted is a mistake, because at the end of the day, young people are our future. There’s no denying it. That’s what happens. We grow up, you grow old, and we take over what older generations once had control of. It’s life. So yes, the youth vote matters, and arguably more than any other vote. If there are people who are making laws that will impact the world for years to come, the people who will actually be alive and contributing to society should be the ones picking those lawmakers: that means young people.

Encourage involvement in politics, don’t squash it. Encourage the formation of political opinions. And if you still don’t think teenagers and young people should have a voice in politics: watch out. It’s happening anyways.