Why people should exercise their right to vote

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This has been excerpted from an essay written by Mendocino eighth grader Henry Thomas in April 2015.

Are you ever unhappy with the way the world is going? Many people complain but do not do anything to change voteit. In the voteUnited States of America, as a citizen over the age of 18 you have the right to vote. Voting means you have a say in who represents you in government and whether certain initiatives are passed. You can vote in both local and national elections. Not everyone participates, however, even though all citizens should exercise their right to vote and be heard.

There are many people who choose not to vote and for many different reasons. The voter turnout in the 2014 midterms in the U.S. was the lowest it has been in any election cycle since World War II, with only 36.4 percent of the voting-eligible population casting ballots. Some of the different reasons for not voting include people thinking their vote won’t count, they’re too busy, the voting lines can be hours long, registration requirements can be confusing, voters can be apathetic, people don’t like the candidates, or they cannot get to the polls. In some countries, there is voter intimidation.

It is the right, privilege and duty to vote as a citizen of your country and a member of your community. People might think their vote does not matter, but votes can shape foreign, economic and social policies.

People have fought long and hard for the opportunity to vote, even losing their lives. Emily Davison threw herself under one of King George V’s horses at the races at Epsom, England, in a demonstration that women should have the right to vote. She died four days later.

In 13 percent of the world’s countries, voting is deemed so important a civic responsibility that it has been made compulsory.

Every citizen should exercise their right to cast a vote in an election. People have died to establish this right to be heard, to have a say in social, political and economic matters and to leave the best administration for future generations. People who do not vote but complain about how the government is run are hypocrites. You have to earn your right to complain.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net