Participating in Democracy Starts Now

Seniors who are old enough and registered can start building their voting record tomorrow

Election Day means no school tomorrow and some seniors’ first chance to participate in democracy by voting.

Government teacher Kimberly Owens said that voting should be a responsibility of all citizens, including eligible students. “I think it’s important to vote in any election, definitely not even just a midterm election, but I think high school students, I think just, the earlier they start the voting process, the more likely they are to continue to vote,” Owens said.

 “I think doing it when you’re closer to it, especially since you’re learning government your senior year, having that tie is just something that’s gonna stick with you for a long time and hopefully continue” she said. 

Senior Brooklyn Wilson is planning to vote tomorrow along with other Shaker seniors who are 18. “Especially because the class of 2023 is so political and so involved in the community, I can see a lot of people voting,” Wilson said.

“I feel like if we have a say now and we have that choice, then a lot of people will make the choice to vote,” senior Zaina Abdul-Khaliq said. 

Seniors are among the population least likely to vote, historically. Turnout among 18-29-year-old voters is usually lower than for other groups. But, a 2021 Tufts University analysis found that about half of young voters cast ballots in the 2020 presidential election in what was “likely one of the highest rates of youth electoral participation since the voting age was lowered to 18.” 

Owens said voting is about more than whether a single vote can affect the outcome of a race. “It does count in other ways, too. Our representatives want to know what we think on issues,” she said, “and one way to do that is voting not just for candidates, but also issues.”  

According to Owens, establishing a history of voting can help when appealing to elected officials for change. “There’s a record of whether or not you vote. So, if I have an interaction with my representative and I want to get something done, I wouldn’t blame them if they went and looked and saw my voting record,” she said. 

“Starting that record earlier, showing that I’m involved in the process and that I do care what goes on” may increase the chance that an elected official will pay attention. 

Seniors will see a ballot that enables votes for governor and other state offices; state representatives and supreme court justices; one of Ohio’s U.S. Senate seats and a U.S. House of Representative seat as well as county races and statewide issues. 

Senior Skylar Sokal said seniors want to do as much as they can to try to influence the outcome. Said Sokal, “I feel that a lot of people in my grade have very strong opinions on abortion rights, based off the amount of social media and reposts, and want to do as much as they can to make a change.”

Election Day is tomorrow. See the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections website for information. 

Executive Managing Editor Annie Sullivan  contributed reporting. 

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