Cast your ballot


Gwyneth Shoecraft

There are many rights that we as Americans hold dear: the right to free speech, the right to protection of our property and, my favorite, the right to freedom of the press.

However, there is one right that I often feel is underappreciated and underused by members of our generation: the right to vote.

Every election day I happily head to the polls. I love the feeling of pressing the felt tip of the marker onto my oversized ballot, carefully calculating how much pressure I can exert on each oval before the wonky cardboard booth will collapse under the force of my excitement.

I revel in the “I voted” stickers handed out as small tokens of appreciation for doing my civic duty. I collect stickers in different languages and keep them to remind me of how lucky I am to live in a country where my vote actually counts.

But each time I go, I worry about those votes that don’t get counted because they have never been cast. I worry about the voice of my generation not being heard because many of us fail to participate in the voting process.

Furthermore, it’s often hard to see the seriousness in this process, as politicians exercise their own right to trash talk on television by way of increasingly alarmist, and often ridiculous, campaign ads.

But I propose that we ignore those ads, as they are aimed for the uninformed voter who would rather be influenced by propaganda than take the time to read the nonpartisan literature the government dutifully sends before each election.
Yes, it is easy to think that our vote doesn’t matter and that it is all a big game. Elections rarely result in the changes I hope for, and ballot issues are not the most important ones in my life.

But once a proposition is passed, it is even harder to get it repealed, and once a politician is elected, we’re stuck with him or her for a few years. Elections are for Americans in it for the long haul. What may not enter your world now may play a significant role in it after graduation.

If our generation does not vote, it is a voice lost. It is spitting in the face of all those Russian protesters in 2012 and the current mass of protesters in Hong Kong, vying for the opportunity for free and fair elections. It is a disservice to ourselves to stand idly by while we watch others vote for change, and then lament when no change appears. If you want to see a change, then be the change, and cast a ballot.