As 2016 has rolled around, the hype of the upcoming presidential election has swept the nation. The primaries have begun as states begin the process of selecting the nominees for each political party, and the pressure is on.
During this time of political energy, most high school students sit back and scroll through their buzz-filled Twitter feeds, either voicing their opinion or simply appreciating the process from afar. Many students, however, do not realize that they have the opportunity to make a real and lasting change in this moment of history by casting a vote themselves.
Many people have the misconception that they are too young to vote, or they are under the impression that they won’t be able to submit a ballot in the November election. All U.S. citizens who are or will be 18 years of age by November 8, 2016 have the opportunity to vote in the presidential primaries in March as well as the presidential election in the fall.
For senior Aaron Cooper, casting his vote is an integral part of life.
“It’s my civic duty to vote,” senior and registered voter Aaron Cooper said. “It’s a chance to make a change.”
Many young Americans believe that these elections will ultimately not affect them. They believe that their vote will not matter among millions of others.
Interim Director of the Forsyth County Board of Elections, Lamar Joyner, would disagree. He calls all students to recognize their responsibility as potential voters and the impact it could have on their futures.
“It’s important for students to start early with the voting process and not to think that the process doesn’t affect them,” Joyner said. “As far as students are concerned, anyone who is thinking about going to college, joining the military, or getting a job after high school is affected by the voting process.”
According to statistics taken by United States Census Bureau, in 2014 only 23.2 percent of eligible high school students were registered to vote. This leaves a remaining three quarters of high school aged students who are able to participate and voice their opinion in the presidential election.
Megan Bosworth, Relationship Development Director at the William G. White YMCA and an advisor for Reynolds’ Youth and Government club, also feels strongly about students taking advantage of their voting opportunities.
“Our system of government is only effective when our citizens are informed and involved,” Bosworth said. “By exercising your right to vote, you make the important decision to become one of those very citizens.”
Here at Reynolds, many students plan on taking advantage of this voting opportunity.
“I think it’s important,” junior Janiah Rorie said. “If we help out with voting, it will be beneficial for our future.”
Senior Paul Jones agrees with Rorie on the importance of casting his vote and recognizes that his vote directly correlates with his ability to express his hopes for the future.
“Voting is a part of the American way of life and part of what makes you an American,” Jones said. “With my vote, I want more minorities to have a better chance at life.”
Casting a vote in the presidential primaries and the presidential election are not only ways for students to make their voices heard, but these opportunities also allow students to make a legitimate change in the nation that they call home.
“The ability to vote wasn’t always a right for everyone; people have been excluded, and are still being excluded today, from this process,” Bosworth adds. “The only way to have an impact and make a difference in the laws that govern our society is to vote.”
For those wishing to register before the February 19 deadline, here is a link to the Voter Registration Form and instructions for Forsyth County voters: http://www.ncsbe.gov/voter-information/vr-form