A Small Vote, A Lifetime of Change


Empty your mind from reality for a second and imagine living in a country where your opinions don’t matter. Imagine having to agree with everything someone tells you to do. Imagine that... well... you are a student. If you are like most teens, then you probably want to have more independence and freedom to express your choices. Voting will  allow you to have your voice heard in this country (even if you don't have one when your mom yells at you for not doing chores).

Voting and participation in the election is the formal expression of opinion and choice. Voting is important because it gives you good reason to complain when an elected official does something that you do not agree with. In addition to having the right to complain, citizens who vote tend to have a deeper connection with their country and community as well as a deeper sense of patriotism and social awareness.

Although I feel that voting is important, there are millions of other Americans who don't. For example, when I asked some teens in D.C. from Collegiate, Wilson, and Anacostia High Schools about their thoughts on voting, several of them said that it didn’t matter who was chosen as the next president of the United States. When I asked why, they stated that the country’s current problems will not be easily changed—regardless of who is signing bills into law. I have to agree. In 2009 when President Obama promised to return troops in Afghanistan to the States, I thought he was just telling us what we wanted to hear… but I was proven wrong. Troops are slowly returning home, but the last group will not be back in the U.S. until 2014.

If you think about it, saving lives and fixing the economy is almost an impossible task for any human. Whatever the outcome of the 2012 election, the president will have to do a humongous amount of work to meet the high expectations of the U.S. citizens. Obama has done a lot, but there is a lot more work that needs to be completed. If you don't support Obama, Romney could be elected president and enforce his conservative Republican ideas across the country. Do you want to live in a nation where a female rape victim is not allowed to have an abortion? Do you want to live in a country where you will never have the same big tax breaks that the wealthy do? Do you want arts and after school programs to be completely eliminated?

Well, I don't; so without your input, the candidate who you don’t fully approve of may be elected president.

As of July 31st, the latest polls indicated that American citizens prefer Barack Obama over Mitt Romney. However, President Obama only had a 2 percent higher average than Mitt Romney, making the 2012 elections very close. Today, Obama and Romney are neck and neck. I strongly advise you to participate in the 2012 elections if you are of age, or to help convince an adult to vote if you are still a minor. You must remember that the will to make an impact on the future all starts with a single vote—yours. Here's what you can do at any age:

16-Year-Olds and Younger: Even though you can’t vote in this particular election, it’s just as important that you urge your family members and friends (and anyone else who is capable) to vote on November 6th! Your future is at risk!

16 and 17-Years-Olds (Who Will Not be 18 on or Before November 6th): Pre-register to vote! Prepare yourself for your time in 2016! Follow the elections and candidates, and become familiar with issues that matter the most to you. Although you can’t vote yet, be sure to spread the word and encourage anyone who is of age to vote.

17-Year-Olds (Who Will Turn 18 on or before November 6th) and Older: You can also register to vote, but make sure that your documents are mailed/handed in no later than October 6th – 30 days before the election date. Also ensure that you know your correct polling place. Urge your friends to come vote with you, and for everyone else who is capable to vote!

To register online to vote, be sure to visit either Rock the Vote or the Board of Ethics' Website. To register in person, go to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics Office at 441 4th Street, N.W., Suite 250 North, Washington, DC 20001. For more information call (202) 727-2525.

Keosha Quigley is a 2012 graduate of Friendship Collegiate Academy and is now an undergraduate at George Mason University.