Weekly Feature

2016-10-06 / Editorial

Voting is an important right no matter your age

Bee Editorial

Of the 218,959,000 Americans eligible to vote in the 2012 presidential election, 146,311,000 were registered and only 126,144,000 actually voted, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and statisticbrain.com.

That’s 57.5 percent of the American population.

When people were asked why they didn’t register or didn’t make it out to vote, people’s responses ranged from illness to lack of interest.

The top three reasons for not voting were “too busy, or conflicting schedule,” “illness or disability” and “not interested.”

It’s a bit startling when we compare this attitude to Facebook rants and endless articles on debates, candidates and the looming 2016 election.

If you ask the average person about the upcoming election, you’re usually met with a mix of cynicism and apathy, or a long-winded endorsement for a favorite candidate. There is no in-between.

National news outlets such as thehill.com are calling this election the “most important of our lifetime,” because the White House is an open seat. Having no incumbent running guarantees a new president, vice president, new voices in key positions and thus new policies.

The Senate is almost evenly matched too, with 54-44 in favor of the GOP (with two Independents). An even split post-Election Day is possible given tight elections for Republican-held seats.

A 50-50 split in the Senate could in turn affect presidential appointments to the Supreme Court, since the Senate needs to confirm new appointments.

One or two new appointments could tip the balance of the court one way or another for the next 20 years. Given the new administration and circumstances surrounding the Senate and Supreme Court, the next four years could be a domino effect of change that starts with us.

That’s all the more reason to get as much information on candidates as we can and make an educated decision at our polling places. It’s also important to teach our children the importance of their right to vote.

Schools such as St. Mary’s Elementary are instilling a need for voting through guest speakers such as Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, who spoke to students on Tuesday, and Rep. Chris Collins, who will speak on Oct. 25.

Teachers and administrative staff hope the early introduction will stick with students later on.

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