The Young Voter Act: Why It Is More Important Than Ever That Young People Get the Right to Vote
Last Monday, my English class was having a discussion about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when one girl spoke up and said, “I know we are marching and protesting but I feel like no one is listening to us.” I believe a lot of teenagers feel that way. Our lives are being affected by legislation passed in federal and state congresses, yet we have no say in any of it. It is time to give young people in this country the power to take a stand and speak out for what they believe in. Our future should be in our hands, not the hands of those who don’t represent what we believe in. The most powerful weapon a person can have in the United States at this time is not a gun, but the vote.
The Youth Progressive Policy
The Youth Progressive Policy Group (YPPG) is an organization created and run by New York students dedicated to the civic engagement of young people in New York and New Jersey. The primary initiative of the YPPG is to get the Young Voters Act passed in New York State. This act will give seventeen year olds the right to vote in New York state and local elections, as well as mandating the implementation of civics education in all public schools.
Why Seventeen Year Olds Should Be Able To Vote
Seventeen year olds have the ability to get married, get divorced, drop out of school, drive a vehicle and join the military, just like most adults in New York State.
According to a study done by Citigroup, 80% of American students work while in school. These students pay taxes and contribute to the economy, but do not have any say in where their money goes. Such a large group of people should not remain disenfranchised - their contributions are worth just as much as adults.
Voter turnout amongst newly eligible voters has been shown to be higher than that of voters of the ages of 18-24.
For example, the voter turnout by newly eligible 16- and 17-year olds in the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 was 75%, a great contrast to the 54% turnout by 18- to 24-year olds.
Civics Education and Voter Registration
The implementation of civics education in public schools also provides an incentive for young people to get involved in politics and vote.
The discussion of civic responsibilities in the classroom gives students the opportunity to ask questions and receive information about the process that they may not have at home or in their communities.
High schools will also be required to hand out voter registration forms to sixteen and seventeen year olds who will be eligible to vote in the next election. This will ensure that everyone in the state has the opportunity to register and make the greatest impact possible.
Beginning civics education and voter registration at a young age will encourage a lifetime of good voting practices. Citizens who are educated and aware of the impact their vote will have are essential to a healthy and successful democracy. Everyone in the United States of America has the civic duty to vote, and this opportunity should be extended to every citizen, regardless of their race, gender, religion, or belief.
Lobby for the Young Voter Act in Albany!
On April 24th, 2018, YPPG is headed to Albany, New York to lobby for the Young Voter Act. We will be visiting the offices of Assembly Members to try to get them to support our message and vote for the Young Voter Act. This is a wonderful opportunity for young people to become involved and let their voices be heard in the government.
Isabel Jonovsky is a junior instrumental major who is a part of the Youth Progressive Policy Group.
If you are at all interested, please visit their website yppg.org, email Isabel at firstname.lastname@example.org or YPPG at email@example.com, and check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @YPPGOfficial. To register for to go to Albany to lobby for the Young Voter Act, please visit: https://goo.gl/forms/AQ69T7C2KpqhVFF62
LaG Mag has collaborated with Isabel Janovsky and YGGP to promote their cause and publish this op-ed. If your club is interested spreading awareness or promoting their cause, contact LaG Mag at firstname.lastname@example.org for a collaboration.