Teenage voting needs a strong boost in participation
On Sept. 18, two 17-year-olds made a difference. They voted in the referendum for Scottish independence from the United Kingdom. Gordon Smith and Ross Patterson were among millions of 16 and 17-year-olds voting and participating in their government for the first time.
Not only did they cast a ballot, they were both extremely well-informed about the merits of the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ camps. Smith and Patterson watched debates and followed the important issues, something most teenagers in the U.S. do not typically do.
Young adults have the potential to impact their government and its actions, yet only 38 percent of 18 to 24 year-olds voted in the 2012 U.S. presidential election, according to The U.S. Census Bureau.
Overall, there is an overwhelming neglect of the ballot boxes and ignorance of pressing political issues.
Young adults often feel their single vote is drowned out and their opinions are left unheard. However, as shown by the Scottish referendum, young people’s voices can be heard.
Scottish voter turnout was a whopping 3.6 million and over 100,000 of those were 16 and 17-year-olds, according to BBC. The referendum’s lowered voting age allowed teenagers to get involved with politics and express their views, noted several news outlets including BBC and USA Today.
17-year-old Scot Jamie Storey said voting at a young age is important.
“I think it’s great that younger people have been given the vote… It’s not just about now, it’s about the future of our country and it is right that young as well as old get a say in that,” Storey said, according to The Guardian.
The fervor and enthusiasm seen in the Scottish Independence movement should be emulated in the U.S. Young adults should be excited to vote, and excited to have influence on who our government officials are and what they do.
By not voting, we are allowing others to make decisions for us. We, as young adults, are allowing people we don’t like, don’t agree with or don’t even know to make choices that affect almost every aspect of our lives.
We should be the ones determining the laws of the workplace, education and even personal matters such as who we can marry and where we can travel.
As a generation, we need to step up, get informed and take control of our future.