Eighteen-Year-Olds Claim Adulthood At Voting Booths

New voters discuss first voting experience

Signs, such as the one pictured above, appeared on lawns throughout the city.
Signs, such as the one pictured above, appeared on lawns throughout the city.

The eighteenth year is a landmark year in someone’s life. Adulthood brings the ability to buy a monkey, get a tattoo, purchase spray paint, sue someone, get married, skydive, adopt a child, and just about anything else a “grownup” is allowed to do. Perhaps most importantly, adulthood brings the right to vote.

This week’s Nov. 5 elections mark the first time many members of the class of 2014 will step into the voting booth. Municipal, judicial, and school board candidates were on the ballot as well as county and local issues. Suddenly thrust into adulthood after not having a say for the past seventeen years, many seniors will finally be able to participate in the government process for themselves. For these fresh voters, there’s an essential question that arises: will they vote with whatever their parents choose, or break off and independently think before casting a ballot?

Having turned eighteen in October, senior Maeve Lyness plans to make her own informed decision. “It makes me feel like an adult,” said Lyness. “I’m gonna research the issues before I vote. I feel obligated to vote. I feel like it’s a privilege that I should take advantage of.”

Senior Evan Seballos took the initiative to vote early. He voted in early November using an absentee ballot. “Having the ballot at home gave me time to look up the issues and candidates online so I would know more about them before I voted,” Seballos said.

Seballos thinks young people have a responsibility to be aware of the current political situation, know about the candidates and know both sides of issues being voted on. “If you vote without knowing what is on the ballot, that is irresponsible, as you are basically rolling the dice on the future of your community,” he said. “And more importantly, if you don’t vote at all, you’re wasting the rights and freedoms our Founding Fathers fought for to make America the great country it is today.”

Lyness went to the polls this Nov. 5 “The process was a little confusing but everyone was really helpful and excited about people voting especially someone young like me.” She noted that the experience was quite anti-climactic.

In a small city like Shaker Heights, every vote counts. “Although someone may think that their vote has no impact on an election, you never know when one vote can make a difference,” Seballos said.

The Nov. 5 city council election results proved just how valuable a single vote can be. Five candidates ran in the election and most final polling results were within 500 votes of each other. Three of the five candidates running won a spot on council. Anne Williams came in first with 4504 votes, Rob Zimmerman in second with 4002, and Tres Roeder in third with 3154. Lynn Ruffner and Mark Zetzer did not win a spot.

For those students who are yet to turn 18, staying informed is still important. Seballos said, “People who aren’t old enough to vote should still be interested in politics because it will be their responsibility to vote in the future.”

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