Cartoon by Julie Han
University High School Charter

Exercise your rights!

Cartoon by Clara Vamvulescu
Cartoon by Clara Vamvulescu

Only 45 percent of 46 million eligible voters under 30 participated in the 2012 presidential elections, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

It is a tragedy that so many are neglecting to exercise their constitutional right to make a difference in this country.

Some argue that their one vote won’t matter in the bigger picture. However, the 1910 election for New York’s congressional district position portrays a different story. In this political contest, Democrat Charles B. Smith won against Republican De Alva S. Alexander by one vote, making the ballot count 20,685 to 20,684.

For those who think that it’s a hassle to find a polling station, you’ll be relieved to know that you can actually vote through the mail. In fact, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will be sending in her absentee ballot for the presidential elections if her trip back to Earth is delayed.

“It’s very incredible that we’re able to vote from up here,” said Rubins in an interview with PBS News. “I think it’s incredibly important for us to vote in all of the elections.”  If an astronaut can take the time to send in her absentee ballot, so can you.

Whatever the reason, there is no excuse not to exercise the right that so many Americans fought and died for.

The decisions being made in the near future impact us for the rest of our lives.  If we care about issues such as war, education, immigration, and the economy, we need to be actively participating in democracy and determining our own future.

Voting forces candidates and lawmakers to listen to the needs of not just those of a few special interests or big donors.

One clear example of the people’s power is the recall of Democrat governor Gray Davis, who was voted out of office and replaced by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003.  According to Ballotpedia, 55 percent of 9.4 million voters cast their ballots to remove Davis from office. On the other hand, 15 million people chose to stay home during the election.  Had they voted, there could have been a completely different governor in Davis’ place. As you can see, your vote does matter.

Given the controversy and stark differences between this year’s presidential candidates, opting to sit out and watch how things turn out is simply not an option.

So what can we youth do to help? For all students out there who are 18 or older and are eligible to do so, take two minutes to register to vote.  Make sure to do this online at by the registration deadline.

For those of us who are not eligible to vote, educate yourself about upcoming propositions and the presidential candidates.

Perhaps you can influence the opinions of people who are going to vote like your friends or family. Go on Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat and tell everyone to vote. Volunteer for a candidate or work for voter registration drives. Whatever it is, spread the message to vote this November.  This issue cannot be stressed enough. The fate of your country is in your hands.