The Charger Account

Local Democracy Depends on Voter Turnout

By Jaden Gill, Editor-in-Chief

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In current politics, teenagers and young adults are seen as the face of change, the progressive leaders that will fight for equality and justice, so why is it that we have one of the lowest voter turnout rates of all the demographics?

With classes, jobs, and extracurricular activities, high school and college students often have a lot on their plate, so much so that heading out to the polls and voting seems like a waste of time and energy, especially when it is not for a highly anticipated presidential election.

But there is no need to wait four years to make a difference, in fact, there is no need to even leave your house to voice your political opinion.

Local and state elections are overshadowed now that presidential candidates have grasped the media’s attention. Young people would rather gossip about one of Donald Trump’s recent tweets than research the propositions and initiatives that will directly affect an intimate community.

Focusing on national politics is important, but we should not disregard off-year elections — they are ideal opportunities to have your voice represented.

With such low polling numbers in state and county elections, your vote could actually be a game-changer. The winning candidate is not decided by a margin of millions, but rather a few hundred, sometimes less.

Complaining about a legislation you disagree with or a repeal you oppose is valid, but local changes actually have the greatest everyday impact. It is worth the ten minutes it takes to register to vote, especially when you can fill out your ballot at home lying on the couch, eating dinner, or brushing your teeth.

Local elected officials decide everything from how police officers are trained to whether or not a road is repaved. These officials also play a crucial role in deciding the quality and type of education received by students. These are changes that communities are directly affected by; you will experience the traffic delays of construction mandated by city council, while you may not be impacted by a shift in government debt.

Nov 7 marked the County’s general Municipal Election and registered 18-year-olds received election ballots by mail to vote for the at-large mayor position, while voters who live in Districts 4, 5, and 6 voted for Council Members as well.

If you are not 18, you can pre-register with a few simple clicks and be prepared to vote as soon as you are eligible.

Once registered, you will be able to participate in all state and local elections without having to register, unless you change your name or political party preference. There is also the option of picking up a paper voter registration application at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) field office, many post offices, public libraries, and government offices, or by request from your county elections office.  

Elections do not happen every four years. They do not require hours of waiting in poll lines to bubble in one of two candidates. The smaller the election, the more your vote counts. If the teenagers who qualify to vote would take a few minutes out of their day during future elections, the younger generation could be the breeding ground for the positive change that so many are counting on.

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Local Democracy Depends on Voter Turnout