Your Vote

Lauren Johnson

Eighteen means adult! You can serve in the military or get a credit card. You can purchase cigarettes, rent apartments, enter into agreements as a legal adult. You are now considered reasonably intelligent. Conversely, you have more responsibility than ever before. You can do much more, but you also must do much more. You can vote. Must you vote?

Although we take it for granted today, 18-year-olds did not always have the right to vote. Before the 26th Amendment to the Constitution was passed, young adults often could not vote until they reached the age of twenty-one. The 26th Amendment was controversial in some spheres, and the voting age still occasionally makes waves in some areas. Some adults argue that 18-year-olds do not have the maturity or wisdom necessary to make sound decisions about important issues.

The United States was founded on the principle of governance by the rule of the people: democracy. In the system we have, imagine what would happen if you didn’t vote. Imagine what would happen if no citizen voted.

One counter-argument to this claim is that 18-year-olds are often well educated in making such decisions. Harriton High School requires all students to take US Government and Politics before graduation. One would think that students would come out of the class ready to make informed contributions to society through that little ballot, having, of course, seriously considered and reflected on all information presented in the classroom.

However, not all of the seniors eligible to vote in November will have finished this class – and does the class really inform students about issues pertinent to voting today? When I took AP Government as a sophomore, we touched upon current issues, but formulating opinions act on in the voting booth was far from a focus of the course.

The effort necessary is actually not that great. Filling out and mailing in a voter registration form before Election Day is easy to do. Pick one up in the library! Once you are registered it is simply a matter of driving to the polling place on Election Day and exercising your new right.

When you walk through the hallways of Harriton, consider the fact that some of the seniors you see will be eligible to vote in November. You yourself might be one of them. Your peers will be helping to decide the future of the United States. If this thought scares you, do not fear. Mitigate the situation when you turn eighteen by voting.