Voter participation strengthens democracy
Between schoolwork, sports, and the many other responsibilities they have, voting is often the last thing on students' minds.
However, once they turn 18, they gain the ability to vote, which allows them to have a say in their government and the decisions that affect them.
“Once you are 18, the decisions made by the leaders you’re voting for impact you every day, from how much you pay for a college loan to the services that are available to you,” said social studies teacher Anita Lukridge.
In order to exercise their right to vote, students need to register, which they can do by going to pavoterservices.pa.gov, entering their information and waiting for their voter registration card to come in the mail.
“It is not difficult to register at all,” said Lukridge. “As long as you have either your driver’s license number or social security number easily available, you can register to vote in under ten minutes.”
In order to vote in the Nov. 6 midterm election, students need to register before Oct. 9. Students who are currently 17 but will be turning 18 before the election date can also register and have their voices heard.
“I feel that if you don’t vote, you lose that right to complain about whatever it is that politicians might be doing or deciding on,” said Lukridge. “So, if you are willing to take that time to vote, then you get that chance to voice your opinion and complain.”
Additionally, by starting to vote as soon as they are eligible, young people are more likely to continue to vote in the future.
“[Voting] becomes a habit,” said Lukridge. “Like anything else, once you get into the habit of doing it, it becomes easier and easier and then almost becomes automatic.”
Despite the benefits of voting, few young people take the time to vote. According to The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, only 50% of people aged 18-29 voted in the 2016 election.
“The younger generation historically has cast the least amount of votes in every election and it seems like the young people have an awful lot that they are upset about,” said Lukridge. “There are just so many issues that hit close to home for young people that they just need to take the time out of their busy days to vote.”
By registering, getting out to the polls and casting their votes, students have the ability to break this trend and make a significant impact on their government and their future.
"The future of Pennsylvania is being written by the people who vote," said Pennsylvania lieutenant governor candidate John Fetterman. "We need the hope, optimism, and insight of Pennsylvania's young people."