No Vote? No Excuse.

Many CHS seniors will have the opportunity to vote this year, and nothing should stop them from exercising their right.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Many CHS seniors will have the opportunity to vote this year, and nothing should stop them from exercising their right.

By Jake Herman, Production Editor/Video Team

The 2016 presidential election is rapidly approaching, and Americans will head to the polls and vote Nov. 8 to choose their next president. Any U.S. citizen who will be age 18 or older on Nov. 8 is eligible to register and vote, which means that many CHS seniors will have the opportunity to do so. By the 2020 presidential election, the vast majority of current CHS students will be able to cast their ballots.

CHS seniors and any millennials that are eligible to vote should exercise their right to do so, and all CHS students should be involved and informed in the election.

Young people, theoretically, are the most important demographic of voters for candidates to appeal to. After all, it is young voters that will steer this country in their own direction in the future. Yet, according to a 2015 Huffington Post article, only 26 percent of eligible millennials (age 18-29) voted in the 2012 election. Here are some of the reasons why some millennials might choose not to vote, and why those reasons shouldn’t keep young voters from having their say:

I don’t know how or where to register to vote. You most likely registered to vote at the MVA when you got your driver’s license. If not, there’s a link on the Observer homepage you can click if you scroll down on the right which will take you to the registration website.

I don’t align with any political party, so why register for one? You don’t have to register for a specific political party to vote in the general election. You just have to register, period. In other states, you can vote in the primaries without being registered for a party, but not in Maryland.

My vote probably won’t affect the outcome, anyway. Polls show that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton currently has a sizable lead among Maryland voters. History also shows that Maryland’s electoral votes have gone to the Democratic nominee each election since 1988.  However, as we all know, this election has been anything but typical. If you support Hillary Clinton but choose not to vote, you put her at risk of losing the state. If other young Clinton supporters think the same way as you and don’t show up or help to ‘get out the vote’, you lose the unique opportunity to choose your leader and legislators. The same logic applies to those who support Donald Trump. Despite Democrats dominating the state in presidential elections, strong turnout from GOP supporters helped Maryland elect our current Republican Governor, Larry Hogan. As the underdog in Maryland, he will need every vote he can get to pull off an upset. Millennials make up a huge chunk of the electorate, but often their voices aren’t heard and their needs aren’t prioritized because they don’t turn out to vote. By thinking that your vote doesn’t impact the results, you further diminish the power of young people to shape America and make it better for them.

It doesn’t matter who gets elected, nothing will really change. This could not be further from the truth. The next president will perform actions that will directly affect young people’s lives. For instance, the new president will appoint a Supreme Court Justice that could change the landscape of social issues and gun control. The new president’s economic plan will affect how easily you can get a job out of college. It’s up to you to decide how you want our government to tackle today’s issues that affect you. That is, of course, if you vote.

I am too busy or won’t be available to vote on November 8th. If you will be out of town on a college visit or unable to go to the polls on the 8th for any reason, there’s no need to fear, as you can vote early or absentee at a number of sites around the state, including the Potomac Community Center just five minutes from CHS. If you are in town, there’s no excuse for not finding 30 minutes of your day to perform your civic duty.

I simply don’t care for politics or these presidential candidates. Many young voters have become disenchanted with the election process and the two major party candidates. If you are one of those people who don’t plan on voting, at least realize that you are making a conscious decision to forego your say in this country’s leadership. Nobody is forcing you to vote. All I ask is that you are at least making an informed and calculated choice rather than simply being lazy or hasty.

Yes, you have the freedom to choose not to vote for the next president. But our founding fathers and past leaders went to extreme measures to ensure that Americans had the right to choose their leaders. When you turn 18, you should exercise that right.