Its time to vote

The Staff of The Jolly Roger

The complex nature of our political climate is both unsettling and horrifying. The outrage and controversy taking place within our nation’s government precariously rests upon a divided country, one that continues to disagree but can find common ground in their struggle to find fair representation.
If turning on the news provokes shock, or agreement, we have options. We can participate in local protests, contact our senators, and voice our frustrations on media platforms, all worthwhile activities in which many high school students do participate. However, we can do more.

As seniors across the nation approach their final year of high school, they face a new responsibility that comes with turning 18: the right to vote.

For those who turn 18 before Nov. 6, we have even more of a responsibility. In order for a democratic society to successfully represent you, it is your job to vote at the midterm elections, during which the House, Senate, and statehouses across the nation are up for grabs.

Many seniors will have to sit idly on the side lines for this year’s upcoming midterms since our birthdays occur a few months late. While this often prevents students from becoming engaged in any political process, being 17 should not stop anyone from fulfilling their civic duty and taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them.

In the state of California teens as young as 16 are eligible to pre-register to vote. This enables youth to be automatically registered as soon as they turn 18, allowing teens under 18 to still participate in our democracy.

Registering to vote is the best opportunity to decide who gets to represent us. The act of voting is basic. The outcome establishes what issues our political leaders will address and how they will work for us.
In the most recent midterms less than 37 percent of eligible voters went to the polls, according to Public Broadcasting Service. In the 2016 election, 102 million people did not vote, an event that resulted in Trump winning the presidency despite losing the popular vote.

The problem behind people failing to vote doesn’t just have to do with indifference. It has been an issue rooted in our country’s history. Restricted to white, male landowners in the Colonial Period, through a civil war, constitutional amendments, and intense activism working to fight against discrimination, that basic right was finally extended to every adult, non felon citizen.

Voting enables equal representation and provides an opportunity to advocate for others. While accessing the right to vote is secure for most, there is still one group in America that is legally prohibited from voting, people with felony records. African Americans are currently incarcerated at more than five times the rate of whites, according to the NAACP’s website. This prohibition is a terrible and unfair restriction that continues to silence people of color.

The youth population includes a number of politically engaged, insightful, beneficial members of our society namely undocumented immigrants protected by DACA. Despite having migrated here when young, and calling America their home, they, too, are prohibited from voting despite being just as much of a citizen as the rest of us.

Not only does voting fulfill one’s civic duty, but young voters may be the most powerful political voice.
With over half the voting population under the age of 25, we are able to directly influence issues that might affect our lives for years, specifically regarding college tuition reform and federal job programs.

Additionally, in a country that continues to struggle to represent and acknowledge diversity, America’s youth may likely be the first demographic group to challenge the basic two party system. Millennials search for alternative political parties that they feel best represent the needs of a diverse population.

Those with the opportunity, or those who are about to be given the opportunity, must take advantage of voter eligibility and have your voice count in the elections to come.

For those looking to pre-register to vote, visit