As young people in America it can be easy to believe we don’t have a voice. This is entirely inaccurate. By leaning into the idea that voting is useless, we open ourselves up to present—and future—harm.
As of November 8, 2022, approximately 12% of the student population will be eligible to vote. This day is a student holiday, so we will have the opportunity to directly impact local legislature without the risk of falling behind in school.
Voting itself takes half an hour. The effects of choosing not to vote, however, will last for years.
Of course, this truth exists alongside the historical fact that underprivileged communities have consistently been disenfranchised by harsh regulations and short voting windows. According to journalist Vann Newkirk, to this day voter suppression most impacts minority voters. This year, both early voting and vote-by-mail options are available in Virginia. We urge you to take advantage of these services if you can.
We’re all high schoolers with a lot to do and a lot on our minds. But being well-informed is crucial to the voting process. Do you really want to casually pick our next House Representative because you were too busy studying to do a Google search?
Even if you aren’t 18, it’s a good idea to know who’s representing you. Being a minor does not mean you don’t matter! Encourage those who can to vote…drive someone to the polls if they can’t get there on their own…do whatever you can, when you can. Every choice matters.
Only about 20% of the global population in 2021 lived in “Free countries” according to FreedomHouse. And of the almost 200 countries in this world, the United States of America is one of 74 which are at least partially democratic, shows data from the 2022 Democracy Index report.
74 out of 195. That’s just below 40%. That number includes flawed democracies, democracies like our very own which discourage their own inhabitants from voting.
Not everyone in this world is allowed to have a voice. We are.
So don’t throw yours away.