The Daily Illini

Get out there and vote

Brian Nguyen

Brian Nguyen

By Mary Adam, Columnist

In high school, there was something alluring about a fake ID. It was a sign of defiance and rebellion. I, like everyone else, wanted one, too. But I didn’t want it for the reasons everyone else did. While most kids wanted a fake ID to get alcohol, I wanted it to vote. That gives you an idea of how much of a nerd I was in high school.

My birthday is in December, so I couldn’t vote, which I was torn up about. On Election Day in 2016, I was bored, sitting in my ethics class when I blurted out, “Raise your hand if you’re 18.” About 15 kids in the class raised their hand. Then I asked, “Out of those of you who are 18, raise your hand if you’re registered to vote.”

One hand raised. I was appalled. This then turned into a 30 minute argument over if you should vote or not and if your vote is important.

So many people, especially young people, don’t vote because they don’t think their vote matters. Your vote may not sway the election, but it does matter. And if you don’t think it does, at least vote to practice the right our democracy gives us. The right to vote is such a special gift, and even if you’re not an educated voter, still vote. The right to have a say in your government and be able to encourage change through your vote and civic engagement is what I love about America.

The voter turnout in the United States for the 2016 election was 60.2 percent according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For the age demographic of 18-29, it was 46.1 percent. France, Canada, South Korea, Belgium and Finland all have a much larger voter turnout than the United States. This is appalling for many reasons but mainly because we are behind Canada in voter turnout. If you don’t want to vote and need some encouragement to get out there, vote to beat out Canada.

The next presidential election may be far away, but the gubernatorial election isn’t. Learn about the candidates now and get ahead of the game. If you’re upset about where our country is heading right now, you can do something about it by voting for a government that you support, which means registering to vote and getting out there. You can’t complain about the direction our country is headed if you don’t vote. There are some decent candidates running for governor, and it’s on us to learn about them, especially as young voters.

Change can occur even with the smallest of choices. It is such a gift to be able to vote, making it even more important to practice that right. When November rolls around, please don’t make me pull my hair out when I hear someone isn’t voting or registered to vote. Get out there and evoke change in your government.

Mary is a freshman in Media.

[email protected]

Leave a Comment