I was in the first grade when I began to catch on to elections and voting – and six-year old me was absolutely offended that I couldn’t vote until I turned 18.
Later in life, when I found out that some people choose not to vote, I couldn’t understand why they would sit out something that seemed so fascinating and is so vital.
At school, there has been a big campaign to get students to pre-register to vote at age 16 so that we are ready to take part as soon as we turn 18. The emphasis is on the importance of one’s voice; it’s just one voice, but it is valid nonetheless. On the flip side, withholding your voice, your vote, is withholding a service that is crucial to democracy.
Maybe it takes somebody who can’t vote to remind those who can how important and exciting it should be. I can’t take the right to vote for granted because I don’t yet have it. But it’s easy to take for granted the rights to which you have become accustomed. Imagine what would happen, however, if those who have proclaimed no desire or intention to vote were told that they were no longer allowed to vote. There would (I hope) be an uproar of opposition.
You often hear that, if for no other reason, you should vote so you can complain with some integrity. There’s something to that, but there’s a lot more that that at stake.
If you don’t vote, you disregard the strife and struggle of Americans who overcame deplorable obstacles to gain and exercise the right to vote. Their suffering was too great and long to be in vain, too profound to be ignored out of apathy or ignorance.
So please, vote.
Lani Tunzi is in the 11th grade at Eagle Rock High School.