Today, on November 2, 2010, I went to a little elementary school and cast my vote. Afterward, I sent a message to almost everyone my age I know, reminding them to vote. Out of all the responses I received, only one person was planning on voting today. One person. All the other responses were excuses for not voting, including one that said, “I don’t consider myself an American so I never vote.” Honestly, I have no idea if that person was joking or not. Regardless, there is no such thing as a good excuse to not vote anymore.
From the women’s rights convention known as Seneca Falls in 1848 until the passing of the 19th amendment, granting all women age 18 and older to vote, 72 years passed. Seventy-two years. Years of campaigning, arrests, brutal attacks, and basically having citizenship denied based on sex finally came to an end after seventy-two years. That is a lot of years. And this is despite the fifteenth amendment, which granted (supposedly) everyone the right to vote regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
The fifteenth amendment was added to the constitution to guarantee former slaves the right to vote. Unfortunately, Jim Crow and voting laws in the South still prohibited former slaves and their descendants from voting. It would take nearly 100 years before these laws were lifted and every U.S. citizen of age finally had the right to vote.
From 1776 it took 188 years for voting rights to belong to everyone. And now, only 46 years later, people of my generation are squandering all the work, the pain, the tears it took to gain this freedom of voting. In 2005 the Washington Post cited that only 47% of registered voters age 18-24 voted in the 2004 election. Less than half voted. This is disturbing.
It is very possible that one day, all these people my age who don’t care to vote will find that they don’t care for the current state of affairs and will wonder how and why things are the way they are. Then what? Sure, they might start voting which would be a very grand idea. But, for now, people of my generation are letting others on the way out decide our future. The future is full of problems. It always has been and always will be. But if we vote while we are young, when it becomes our turn to run for office, practice law, raise children, pay more taxes, and all that jazz, at least we can say that we never shirked our duty to do our best with whatever it is we’ve got.
One more thing: voting when you don’t know what it is you are voting for is ridiculous. Don’t vote just to vote. Research the candidates and the issues. What is the purpose of a blind vote? It isn’t even a vote. It’s a gamble. Ignorance is only bliss until the day you find the carpet is being ripped out from under you because you didn’t pay enough taxes after a hefty tax increase created by a candidate elected by blind voters or apathetic voters.