Ballot box dilemma: Why teens should vote


“Your vote counts,” repeat hun-
dreds of Americans every year, treat-
ing democracy like a children’s nurs-
ery rhyme. Decade after decade, this

advice has flown over the heads of
teenagers. This minimized regard for
civil participation is the reason why
teens and young adults have remained
the demographic with the worst voter
turnout relative to other age groups.
Teens don’t vote because they may
feel their vote doesn’t count. While a
singular ballot may feel insignificant
in the scheme of an entire election, the

need to vote lies in our ability to ex-
ercise such right. Voting on all levels

of government is uniquely an Ameri-
can privilege, a privilege that most of

the world is denied. Yet in the hands
of many teens, this invaluable privilege
seems to be viewed as a chore.

Voting is the cornerstone of a demo-
cratic system to represent the voice of

the majority. That voice, however, can-
not be voluntarily relinquished to the

interests of older individuals. If the
internet has proven anything, it’s the
interconnectedness of teenage voices.
In just a few presidential elections, our
age group will be the majority voter

base. It is necessary that we start to dic-
tate our generational ideals early on, so

that change can be made by that point.
Social media could be hailed as the
hero and the villain of teen participation
in the political world. At its best, social

media is an important source of infor-
mation made available by the touch of

a screen. However, this becomes harm-
ful when teens take stances on issues

they learn about at surface value, or
when the absorbed information is fake
news altogether. While a vital source to
obtain information, young people must

read the news they come across on so-
cial media with a critical eye.

The country saw an increase in teen
and young adult voter turnout during

the 2020 presidential election. Accord-
ing to, the 18-29 year old de-
mographic jumped from 39 percent in

the 2016 election to about 50 percent in
2020. Last year was arguably the most
polarized election to date and voters
often felt obligated to stand for party

allegiances. However, in milder elec-
tions, voter turnout sharply declines.

It’s necessary that 2020 does not serve
as a historical peak, but rather a new
standard for teens’ voices to be heard
in government.
A low voter turnout risks electing
individuals who do not represent the

majoritarian interests of their con-
stituents, a fact especially relevant to

Midterm Elections. As the makeup of

Congress largely determines what leg-
islation will be reviewed and passed

into law, teens must start voting on leg-
islative issues that affect themselves

and the entire country.

In 2020, attempts at voter disenfran-
chisement proved just how much a sin-
gle vote matters: multiple electorates

won by a margin of several hundred
votes. In local elections, those races
are even tighter. Teens, therefore, have
the potential to majorly affect politics
at all levels of government. Every little
increase in teen voter turnout has a
massive impact.
Local politics are where one vote
can often have the most impact. These

governments focus on topics of signifi-
cance to where the voter lives, but also

have the ability to instigate change at
the state, and ultimately, national level.

With the local and gubernatorial elec-
tions on Nov. 2, we urge teens and

young adults to educate themselves
and begin to take part in the democratic
process every single year.