Voting can foster change in our communities

This story was originally published in the second edition of The Lion’s Tale (November 6, 2020).

Turning 18 is a big milestone for many students at Oviedo High School. You gain so many responsibilities coming of age and for some it might seem overwhelming. It’s important to do research and talk to adults about what you need to stay on top of or think about. Out of all the rights gained at this age, the most important one is to get your voice out and vote. It may not feel like you are making a difference, in reality, citizens’ voices all add up and make a real impact.

Voting allows citizens to have their voices be heard in government, fostering change in our country. Choosing not to vote contributes to maintaining the status quo, which can have negative effects. You don’t have to agree with a politician on every issue, but it’s important to evaluate the candidates and determine which one is closer to aligning with your values. You might have personal similarities with a politician, and that might be the biggest reason you vote for them. This election comes at a critical point and the next four years, and beyond, are at stake.

Voting was considered so important in past years that people fought for their franchise, leading to constitutional amendments guaranteeing the right to vote for all races and genders. The Fifthteenth Amendment to the Constitution finally granted African American men the right to vote after the Civil War. They couldn’t be denied their right on account of race or color, at least in theory. The Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote in the United States; women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton fought for years and were given what they rightfully deserved. It is thanks to people like these suffragists that voting is no longer limited to white men, and we owe it to them to exercise this right and influence the trajectory of history.

Once you turn sixteen, you can pre-register so you are set up to vote once you reach eighteen years of age. Earlier this year, Chris Anderson, Supervisor of Elections for Seminole County, came to our school to discuss voting and help students begin the registration process, a convenient opportunity for us.

Whether you vote Democratic, Republican or independent, know that by voting you can affect change in your community and nation.