We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, must vote. We are lucky enough to live in a country where it is not only allowed, but encouraged for everyone to go out and vote. It’s not just a privilege, it’s a responsibility.

I’m aware I don’t technically have a say in how our government works. I’m only 15. So why should I care? I care because I don’t have the same power that some choose not to use.

Only 60 percent of eligible people voted in the last presidential election (www.census.gov). For a country that loves freedom like it loves reality TV, it’s a little weird for it to not fully utilize the biggest freedom it has. Frankly, it’s embarrassing.

People fought and died for our right to have a say. They still do. Your say isn’t something that should be treated lightly. It allows our government to function. It’s what we, the people, can do. Our country was built off the idea that the power resides in the average citizen. You have a say.

You have a say in how your government serves you. Because that’s what it does. The government serves us. The people. You have a say in how they spend your money, use our resources and create our laws. You have a say in who speaks for you, stands up for you.

All you have to do is use it.

Voting allows you to pick the people that will represent you. Candidates present themselves and their views to the people, and the people vote. The winner gets the power and trust of the people to do right by them and their wishes. Seems pretty simple, right? The thing is, a lot of people don’t even realize the vital position they themselves hold in the way our country runs.

Our duty as citizens to vote comes from the generations of people in the past who fought and died for the freedoms that some take for granted today.
[media-credit name=”Photo by Katie Sgroi, Art by Matti Crabtree” align=”alignleft” width=”371″][/media-credit]
A vote is something that shouldn’t for one second be taken for granted. That is an insult to the people all over the world who die and agonize over their silenced voice. It’s an insult to the people who fought unjust laws and misrepresentation in our own history. In America, our voices are heard. So use your voice.

I’m not usually the person that uses the phrase ‘do it for your country,’ but come on. Voting is something that you do, at least in part, for your country. Our democracy only works if people use it. Without 100 percent participation, what is it? A pseudo democracy? A kinda democracy? Without the people’s input, how is it supposed to do its job? Which is, of course, to serve us and protect we, the people.

Some people like to talk about their politics over Facebook, Twitter, whatever. I’m fine with that. But if you’re 18 or older, you’d better be voting. If you choose to spew political opinions all over everyone and don’t feel the need to vote, you’ve lost the right to expect me to care about what you think.

Don’t think that your vote doesn’t matter. It absolutely does. That theory was disproved in 2000 when the presidential election was decided by a difference of 600 votes in Florida (uselectionatlas.org).

Don’t think that a state’s ‘color’ will take importance away from your vote. Everyone knows that Kansas will go red, but your vote will still count towards your candidate. Though the electoral college does share importance with the popular vote, one doesn’t dominate the other when it comes to who gets the Oval Office.

Don’t think that the presidential election is the only one that matters. It’s for sure the most publicized; I’m liable to react violently if I see more political ads while I’m trying to enjoy my “Gossip Girl.” Underneath the constant, sickening presidential election propaganda, there are House of Representatives and Senate elections happening on Nov. 6, too.

Every two years we choose new representatives, and every six years we choose new senators. These people don’t have the fancy house or camera-ready smile that presidents have, but they are the ones that create and pass the bills that the president signs into law.

They shouldn’t be overlooked because there aren’t as publicized. Your representative is supposed to be there to hear you directly and bring your say to Capitol Hill. I could send a letter to President Obama, but I doubt he’ll respond. It’s the representative’s job to be in touch with you, to hear what you have to tell them.

The same is true for your governor, state representatives, sheriffs and a slew of other elected officials. Your responsibility to vote doesn’t stop at Presidential elections.

Who you vote for isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. Educate yourself. Research all the candidates and think about which one’s views line up with what you believe in. Democrat? There’s a candidate for that. Republican? There’s a candidate for that. American-Vegetarian? There’s a candidate for that, too. Don’t believe me? Look it up.

As for America’s future, I can only hope that my generation recognizes the importance of voting, that which allows my older brother, grandma and everyone in between to have a say.

I won’t be seeing you on election day. But that’s just because I can’t vote.

Voting is a responsibility bestowed on us by generations of people before us, millions of people who still fight for the right to a ballot and our very own duty to our nation. In order for us to truly be a country of the people, by the people, and for the people, we must vote.

[media-credit name=”Graphs by Kim Hoedel, Statistics from Census.gov” align=”aligncenter” width=”885″][/media-credit]