BY SABRINE BRISMEUR
With the upcoming 2016 election, some Cooper City High School seniors are afforded the opportunity to vote for the next president of the United States on November 8th. But despite the almost given importance of voting, the turnout rate for the 18-24 year old demographic, though prone to fluctuation, has remained relatively low. Young voters have historically held the lowest rates of electoral participation, bordering between turnout rates of 50.9% at best and 32% at worst from 1964 to 2012, according to a 2014 analysis from the Census Bureau.
“Whether you choose to vote for one of multiple candidates doesn’t mean anything because it represents who you are in a democracy,” Senior Jesse Klauber said. “It drives the United States.”
Senior Nikki Tjin a Djie agreed.
“It’s essential for democracy to work,” she said. “It’s crucial we vote for everything in a general election, but we also have to be knowledgeable about what we’re voting for — not just who you’re voting for when you side with a candidate.”
Yet the politically aware attitudes of these seniors are not the majority. One thing is clear in the midst of America’s most controversial election cycle: part of this enormous gap in voting participation must be due to the attitude many young voters have towards political involvement. The active voting population is far smaller than the eligible voting population, and for the United States to reach its full democratic potential, the eligible population needs to become the voting population.
“Voting is especially important this year. I don’t think there has ever been a year as critical as this year,” American History teacher Dwayne Dixon said. “It doesn’t matter who you’re voting for, but kids, adults — everyone needs to get out and vote.”
The seniors eligible to vote at Cooper City High School are part of the most underrepresented demographic of voters, but arguably one of the most important. As the youngest adult citizens of the United States, this generation is responsible for shaping the future of their own lives, and America as a whole. Consequently, political ideals should reflect more of the values of the young adult population. But when young voters don’t participate in the election process, “representative” democracy is no longer truly representative. The youth vote continues to be left out, and their population remains frustrated — yet by no fault except their own for not voting.
“If you don’t vote, you can’t complain. That’s the reality,” Dixon added. “People complain about our government all the time, but they refuse to participate.”
By voting, students also pay respect to the people who have worked hard to gain the vote. Originally, the US Constitution reserved the right to vote for only wealthy, land-owning white men. Over time, tireless protests, and endless campaigns, voting rights were secured by those looked down upon by society: Native Americans, African Americans, and women, to name a few. Voting is a civic duty and an honorable act which pays homage to the activists who rallied so hard for voting rights.
Citizens of the United States are fortunate to be able to vote at all. Countries around the world do not offer voting to all their citizens, whether it’s due to lacking funds or dismal human rights. Even more countries do offer voting, but work around it through intimidation, or by creating regulations so difficult to abide by, the suppressed population is realistically unable to vote at all.
“Voting is one of the principle differences between the United States and any other country in the world,” Klauber said. “It’s what makes us different — there are places where people don’t get the right to vote.”
Cooper City’s seniors should take full advantage of the opportunity presented to them and vote on the presidential election on November 8th, and during future local elections as well. Youth voting is a civic duty that is vital for a true democracy, and a healthy country.
“If there’s ever been a time for people to realize how important voting is, it’s this election cycle, and I hope people take heed and vote,” Dixon said.