Why You Absolutely Should Vote

Voters cast their ballots in person for the Presidential race on election day in Clifton, Virginia (Paul Richards/The Lambert Post)
Voters cast their ballots in person for the Presidential race on election day in Clifton, Virginia (Paul Richards/The Lambert Post)

In the United States, every citizen above 18 is guaranteed the right to vote. This means that everyday people get to decide who represents us across each level of government. This year, 2024, will host arguably the most important election of all – that of the President of the United States. With much of Lambert’s junior and senior class turning 18 before the election, if they haven’t already, it’s essential for students to know about the election process and to partake in it.

In short, you absolutely should vote.

The President of the United States has one of the most critical roles in the federal government. The President serves as the head of our nation and has direct control over how the government enacts its laws. Moreover, the 2024 presidential election is shaping up to be a particularly historic race.

Presidential elections occur across many stages, with each party voting on who they want to represent in the final election held in November. With the Democratic and Republican primaries closing, incumbent President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have emerged as each party’s prospective nominees, respectively.

In other words, we’ll see a rematch of 2020’s presidential election and a second term for either candidate. Both candidates have a notable amount of polarity among Americans. Each faced massive controversy in the 2020 election, and it’s only increased since then. While many voters are critical of both candidates, others are already showing strong support for their preferred choice. Still, the race remains up in the air, with polls largely showing each candidate tied for public support.

Since a close election is anticipated, your vote matters more than ever. Look no further than the 2000 Presidential election, where Democratic nominee Al Gore lost to Republican President Georgia Bush. The entire election came down to one state, Florida, where Gore lost by an estimated margin of just 0.009% of voters. Had just a few more people in Florida voted for Gore, the entire country would’ve had a completely different President from 2000-2004.

And here’s the kicker – in the 2000 election, polls showed an average point difference of six percent between candidates. Meanwhile, polls for the 2024 election show a point difference of just one percent. By all measures, this year’s presidential election will be one of the closest in recorded history, and your vote might decide it.

Chart showing point different between polls for the front-running 2024 Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump, compiled by ABC News (ABC News/The Lambert Post)

Even recently, in the 2016 election, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton received more popular votes whereas Republican former President Donald Trump received more states in the electoral college. The entire election came down to a few key states, Georgia being one of them.

As a citizen, voting is your right. One that was gradually expanded to include all citizens regardless of gender or race. Exercising your rights is an essential part of being an American and having a voice in who governs you.

Amaar Alidina, a Lambert senior who also works as a field organizer with the Georgia Muslim Voter Project, explained more about why all students should vote.

“We as students have such a unique perspective on the ways institutions affect our day-to-day lives,” Alidina explained. “…registering to vote and being aware of the elections and our ability to participate in them is one of the most important ways we can exercise our civil liberties and voices as citizens.”

The Georgia Muslim Voter Project poses during an advocacy day at the State Capital, featuring Lambert student Amaar Alidina on the right. (Instagram/The Lambert Post)

So, how do eligible high school students vote? To start, you need to be at least 17 and a half at the time you register, making sure you’ll be 18 by the time election day comes around on November 5, 2024. Then, it’s as easy as filling out an online application that can be found on the Georgia Secretary of State’s website. You’ll need a valid driver’s license or identification to fill out the online application. Afterward, you can check the status of your registration on the same website. Thankfully, Georgia makes it easy to register and check your status online. Once you’re registered, you can show up on election day and cast your ballot the same as everyone else.

While the Presidential election is certainly important, you should also participate in the local elections this year. Local elections elect your Mayor, Sheriffs, and State Senators.

“Local elections and mobilizing during them are the most important,” Alidina stated. “Because at the end of the day, those are the people who are going to affect your day-to-day life the most,”

For example, Forsyth County School’s board is up for election this year, with primaries occurring on May 21. This is your chance to directly influence the school system that serves you. Local elections can affect everything from your school to infrastructure and taxes, meaning they’re just as, if not more important than federal elections. In local elections specifically, candidates often win by just a handful of votes. Your vote could influence your day-to-day life for the next few years.

Whether you’re voting in local or national elections (ideally both), the biggest thing is to be informed about your decision. Since your vote means so much, you must research what each candidate stands for and how they intend to tackle the issues you care about. Look for trusted, unbiased news sources that provide all sides of the story regarding election coverage. One good tool is an online platform called AllSides, which highlights different stories from both sides of the political divide. Also, check out official communication from government websites about how to vote and which candidates are up for election.

“You can visit the Secretary of State’s my voter page (mvp.sos.ga.gov) to check all sorts of information,” Alidina added. “The biggest thing is to make sure you’re informed on who you’re voting for and what their policies are,”

Voting is an exclusive right we receive as citizens of the United States. Almost no other country has a democracy like ours – some don’t even have a democracy in the first place. It’s also the best way to make your voice heard as a high schooler and have a direct hand in your government. Your vote may not seem like much, but it can influence entire Presidential elections and your future day-to-day life. With the process of registering to vote and accessing information being easier than ever before, there’s no reason not to exercise your right to do so. Check out The Lambert Post’s election coverage over the next couple of months, and please – vote.

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