Election Fever '08
By Stephanie Lynn, age 23, Massachusetts
Why Should You Vote?As many of you know, when you are at least 18 years old in the United States you have the right to vote. But year after year only a small percentage of young adults actually show up at the polls to vote. Many young people may feel like their one vote can't possibly lead to change. However, if a small number of voters (how small? for most of you, fewer than the number in your high school class) had gotten out of bed and voted Democratic in the state of Florida in 2000, Al Gore would have defeated George W. Bush and been elected president. No matter your particular preference, surely history would have been different. Even if you're not old enough to vote in this year's election, it's still good to follow the news and the issues anyway, as you'll better understand the process in a few years.
How to VoteVote for whom YOU think would be a good president. It's okay to talk with your friends and family about their opinions regarding the candidates, but this is your vote! Do some research and learn all you can about each candidate's experience, their views on important issues, and so on, and decide for yourself. It also helps to watch a few debates. They may seem boring, but they will really help you understand where each man or woman stands. Also remember that your vote is anonymous, so none of your friends or family will know which candidate you voted for ... unless you tell them. :)
RegisteringRegistering to vote is probably the easiest step in the whole voting process. Each state makes its own rules regarding registration and primaries or caucuses, so the process varies from state to state. You'll need to fill out a form with some basic questions, such as your name, address, and political party. I did this at my town hall, but there may be other options available in your area. On your registration form you may be asked to select Democratic, Republican, or No Party (also called Unenrolled or Independent).
There are several places where you may be able to register to vote, like your city/town hall or high school. (Just ask a teacher or faculty member.) For example, if you need to make any changes to your driver's license or register an automobile, you may be able to register right at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Or you can register online. Just go to GOP.com or Facebook for a registry form. Facebook will have you print out the questionnaire and mail it in. Some states also have walk-in registration, so you can register and vote on the same day.
The ElectionAs you may or may not know, the primaries and caucuses are currently taking place. Perhaps they've already taken place in your state. Many states will be voting on Super Tuesday, which is February 5th this year (only one day before my birthday!). The primaries are your chance to look into a fairly wide range of candidates and vote for the one you see as most fit. Be careful though, because in some states, Independents cannot vote in the primaries. The winner of the Democratic party and the winner of the Republican party will face off in the November election.
You can find out when your state is voting and track the primary results here:
I really hope you will all exercise your right to vote in 2008 and future elections. It's time we let our voices be heard where it really matters.