Vote for the change you want to see


Staff Photo by Jordyn Brautman

Clusters of campaign signs for local elections sit on the side of an Early Voting building.

Voting is a civic responsibility crucial in determining the outcomes of local, state and national elections. Teenagers in today’s society have a powerful voice in the government and hold the potential for change in their hands. Voters who cast a ballot in any election are given a direct voice in our democracy. 

Before the 2020 election,  4 million Americans will turn 18. In 2014, less than 20 percent of young people voted which was the lowest rate of teen voters ever. These numbers are a fraction of the total amount of teenagers in the United States who were eligible to vote.

The importance of voting has a different meaning for each individual. Senior, Addie Schlegel is a passionate individual and advocates for voting in her community.

“Voting is important to me because every election, my rights are up for grabs,” Schlegel said. “If I want anything to change, I must take the steps to ensure it happens.” 

Voting ensures representation for each person and their political views and ideals in the government. Wakefield High School Junior, Landon Norris, recognizes the importance of voting as a teenager. 

This sign directs crowds of people in the correct direction while entering a voting facility. (Staff Photo by Jordyn Brautman)

“Voting is one of the truest forms of self-expression known to man,” Norris said. “We must use this human right in a just manner, as the result of our elections ultimately dictate our future.” 

Social studies teacher, Zachary Routh, is the sponsor for Wakefield High School’s biannual voter registration drive and actively encourages his senior students to show up at the polls.  

“As someone who studies and sometimes argues about political issues, voting gives me a gratifying feeling that my voice has officially been heard,” Routh said. “Arguing or putting a sign in your yard is sort of meaningless if you don’t vote and encourage others to join you.” 

As a voter registration drive helper and social studies teacher at Wakefield High School, Miranda Pikaart, believes that voting causes change.

“Especially in today’s climate,” Pikaart said. “People are more passionate than ever about issues that matter to them.” 

For teens in today’s society, there are many issues that are being brought to the forefront of their minds. 2020 is a crucial election year and there are many issues on the table in both local and national elections. 

“To me, every issue of human rights is of the utmost importance,” Schlegel said. “Topics such as LGBTQ+ equality, racial injustice, immigration policy, and women’s rights are the most important political issues.” 

Norris is passionate about all issues entailing the current climate crisis.  

“As both sides of the aisle disagree on how we will achieve a sustainable climate, the importance of the crisis is often lost in the midst of this political unrest,” Norris said. “Are we going to continue to abuse our resources, or will we decide that enough is enough?”

Many of my peers believe that their one vote doesn’t matter but when thousands of people have the same mindset, the bigger picture begins to take effect.

— Schlegel

Everyone has their own biased opinions on the government and its policies. The only way to make a change or ensure representatives who believe in similar ideas are elected is to vote. Some policies are put into place on a larger scale, and some on a more local scale. Local elections include positions such as Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Treasurer, Attorney General, US Senate and Commission of Agriculture.

“Local elections in many ways affect individuals more so than national elections,” Routh said. “Decisions about schools, roads, or local ordinances are made by those at a local level.”

Teachers and students are some of the many groups of people directly affected by outcomes of local elections because of changes in educational policy. Throughout their lives, many people vote in general elections yet fail to see how important local elections are as well.  

“Local elections impact my life equally as much as larger elections do,” Schlegel said. “The elections in my city, county, and state impact my education, wage, housing, health, and safety.” 

For many, politics can be overwhelming. The thought of choosing one candidate over the other when neither seems fitting can result in abstention.  Many understand that education in the home and school environment is pivotal for determining if a child feels empowered to grow up and use their voice, or just stand by and watch. 

“Don’t be afraid of politics or voting,” Routh said. “Everything we do is inherently political, and we have an opportunity to change how politics function in this country through voting.” 

 Throughout history, as seen in many trends, there has been a significant age gap in voter registration and voting. Norris explains his concern for the lack of youth voter turnout and why this trend has continued throughout the years. 

“Now that many civil liberties and equalities have been achieved, I fear that America’s youth will take them for granted,” Norris said. “Do not be misled by what you hear; your rights are on the ballot.” 

Along with common misconceptions heard on social media and other platforms, some people believe the amount of education teens receive in different environments has a significant impact on voter turnout. 

“I also believe that young people aren’t educated at home or school about just how important voting is,” Schlegel said. “Many of my peers believe that their one vote doesn’t matter but when thousands of people have the same mindset, the bigger picture begins to take effect.” 

Many citizens of the United States do not realize the extent to which their vote matters. Local elections determine policies that have direct effects on families and also determine who will represent an area in the national government. Teenagers have powerful voices, and casting a vote unites those voices together to implement change. Vote in local elections, vote in national elections, and vote for the change you want to see.

Rows of local campaign signs are placed near voting sites to encourage voters to vote for a specific candidate. (Staff Photo by Jordyn Brautman)