A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Voting effects on minors

As someone many years under the voting age, watching bills pass or get vetoed constantly gets a little frustrating. Our peers who are graduating this upcoming May are voting on bills and grants that will directly affect us, whether it’s at school or in our community. There are many issues that are going on in our world, problems around education, health, our environment, and a lot of other things that affect everyone, directly or indirectly. It’s really great to know that while our state legalized marijuana, grants that are supposed to go to schools to help start a suicide prevention program or reduce the number of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere were rejected.

We have been silently standing by for this upcoming election. We have repeatedly been frustrated to see decisions being made for us by the 5A and 4A bonds. These directly affect us, though we can’t vote. Even though we cannot voice our opinions, others can and are not taking advantage of this opportunity.

People have a choice in today’s day and age, and that is to vote or not. Wars have been fought and blood been shed for this ability and privilege, but people do not take advantage. If they just don’t care, then they should because they could be affected by this decision. If somebody wants something changed, then they must vote to make it happen. They’ll never know if they don’t cast their vote.

The only way we can try to change what happens is to influence people with our opinion of what we think they should vote for, but that rarely works and it creates even more problems. Watching other people who have the option to vote to throw it away by not educating themselves then choosing something that will harm the country or state is really frustrating and angering. If someone has the power to make our state a better place but doesn’t use it to their full advantage, is it any wonder that all of these important issues that could benefit our health or our safety are neglected?

We don’t believe the voting age should be changed. It makes sense for people not being able to vote until they’re legally adults, but if we feel our beliefs aren’t being represented in the government, we need to speak up about it. Whether it’s through social media or you just venting to your friends, someone needs to start a conversation so that the politicians, older peers and parents can rightfully stand up for us.

For example, the 4A measure for Littleton Public Schools is strictly for us, the students. The 4A measure will have Newton Middle School rebuilt, a small stadium for varsity and junior varsity sports, and overall have our schools be cleaned. The institutions being built and rebuilt will be used by the students, not parents or graduating seniors. If measures such as that don’t get voted on, it can be frustrating because it makes us feel like our schools or classrooms don’t need to fit our needs for properly learning.

Statewide issues are important, and there are more government issues that affect the whole country which matter more. An example is the gun control situation in our country right now. Although acts of gun violence can happen anywhere in the country, countless schools and students have felt the weight of an event like that actually happening. After watching the news after a school shooting happens, it makes us think “could that happen to me?”

Even though we do the drills during school and we plan out what students will do in that situation, we can’t support the politicians who will keep us safe at school. Sure, we can support them verbally, but we can’t physically support them when Election Day comes around. It makes us feel like our voices don’t matter, and later when we turn 18, we could be scared away from the polls like so many other young people in this country. People vote uneducated and we have to stand by and watch, knowing how this will affect everyone but not being able to change what happens. When there are things that need to be voted on, there is a list of items and what they will change that can be found several places.

However, these are not always the easiest to understand and skew the meaning with big words and confusing sentences so someone reading it will vote for something desired by the manufacturer of the items, not for what the voter actually wants. The only way for a voter to truly understand what they are voting for is to pull out their dictionary and spend several hours understanding what the items actually mean. This tends not to happen, and then uneducated voting occurs. Other times, voters just select what the signs in their neighbors’ yards tell them too without fully understanding what they are agreeing or disagreeing to.

While the government tells us that everyone should be voting, is it better to have an uneducated voter than someone abstain from the voting process because they don’t actually know what they are doing? Even if they do try to educate themselves, aren’t all of the definitions of the items just someone else’s opinion?

People need to take the responsibility to educate themselves and vote on the right thing that they understand and feel and truly believe is right because this affects everyone, even young people who can’t vote even if we are educated and want to make a difference. While we can’t say that the young people will take the time to read what all of these items are about and look at the meaning behind the words that are fed to us on commercials and media, we can say that when we are of voting age and voting comes around, we will be sure that our voices are educated and heard.