I remember when I was in elementary school. It was 2004 and my class had a mock election. We came into class and filled out our ballots, excited to have a say on who was going to be our president. Of course, we knew our little ballots, which marked the candidate we liked more with Crayola crayons, meant nothing. Despite this, there was a magical feeling as the teacher announced that John Kerry had won the class election. The children that voted for him clapped and cheered. Those that didn’t sulk, clearly upset. None of the results mattered though. John Kerry did not win the general election, George Bush did.
As I got older I watched as my parents forgot to vote in some elections. I followed the 2008 and 2012 USA presidential elections and watched as voter turnout continued to drop. Sixty percent of an entire population of people. SIXTY PERCENT seemed like a lot to me at the time (it was a majority, right?) but I’ve come to realize that 40% of a population not exercising a right is appalling.
Something has happened in 2016 and I’m not even quite sure I can put it into words. Donald Trump is part of it…. nobody can deny that his presence has increased turnout and has made thousands rush to the polls to vote for him, or against him. Despite that fact that I personally do not support him, it is fascinating how his personality has changed the way people vote. Bernie Sanders too has also made voting “cool” for the younger generation with his Snapchat filters and “Feel the Bern” supporters. At first I thought that this sudden attitude of wanting to vote was a thing that happened every four years, but I realize now that something special has happened in the United States. There’s a reason that the debates have become some of the most watched programs on television (my family watches them together). There’s a reason that I saw so many of my friends posting selfies with “I Voted” stickers on Super Tuesday.
Suddenly it is cool to vote. Suddenly it is cool to exercise a constitutional right. It is cool to be educated on politics and it is cool to debate. While the circumstances are less than favorable, at least there is one good thing that has come out of all of this. The next generation is experiencing a monumental election in the making and will grow up educated and enlightened on what the voting process is all about.
If you are old enough to vote (in whatever country you live) try to make it to the polls on Election Day. It is okay to want to exercise your rights in order to appoint someone that cares about your future!