Youth moving forward

Lara Hamdan, Editor-in-chief

 

Exercising the right to vote and choose our leaders is a quality that separates this country from many others. An American citizen can head to the polls and vote on who they want as their president, governor, senator, local representatives and various amendments. Having this honorary right in making a change begins with being 18 years old.

The 26th Amendment of the U.S Constitution lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 and prohibits the federal government from setting a voting age higher than 18. This allows millions of young people to play a part in the democratic system and have a powerful, official voice in their political future.

This year’s election allows the many seniors of the class of 2013 to vote for president during their final high school year. While there was a mock election here at North, the real thing on Nov. 6 was much more enhanced and appreciated.

“My first experience as a voter was pretty surreal and raw; I loved it,” said senior Ciara Smith. Smith went to vote in her local station, which was John Knox Church. While it took a good solid hour for her to get to the ballot, she feels this experience helped her feel empowered as an African- American woman since her ancestors fought for this. She gets to honor them and vote.

Registering to vote was not an issue. People can register at local libraries, offices and even online, which is was Randall Young did.

“It was easy. I registered online,” Young said. Young also made the smart decision of heading to polls early. “Voting was not what I expected it to be, but I got there early to make sure I didn’t wait in line for a long time,” he said.

Since the election consists of not only voting for president, but other officials, voters have to take time out to research the candidates and what they stand for.

“I made sure that I did plenty of research on the candidates running locally,” senior Brianna Moore said. Voting was a positive experience for her.

“It was an amazing experience that I wish everyone had a chance to enjoy. The environment outside and inside of the voting location was full of positive energy from older people and excitement from first time voters, such as myself,” she said.

The turnout for young voters has increased with President Obama’s terms. Many teens feel more empowered to vote. Voters from ages 18-29 represented 19 percent of those who voted on Nov. 6, which was a 1 percent increase from 2008.

“I felt like I was a part of some movement,” said senior Cameron Strickland. “The future was in my ballot.”

Voting is a right that everyone should exercise and be a part of if they can.

“I loved my voting experience and I will be voting until I am old, gray-haired, and then some,” Smith said.