Americans should feel obligated to vote

Graphic via Pixabay

Graphic via Pixabay

A few weeks ago I was with a couple of my friends when the unavoidable hot topic of discussion came up: the election.

Surprisingly, instead of discussing who they were planning to vote for, all three of my peers agreed they were not voting at all come Election Day. This left a sour taste in my mouth. Here were bright, young women eligible to vote for the first time in their lives, and they were making the conscious decision to abstain.

Need I remind you that 100 years ago women didn’t have the right to vote. It was not until 1920, when the 19th Amendment was officially ratified, that women were granted this right. Even then, it still took more than 60 years for all 50 states to ratify the amendment, ending with Mississippi in 1984.

Women, such as suffragist Inez Milholland, fought and died for the right to vote. To not take advantage of this right we have is unbelievable.

Regardless of who you plan to vote for in this election, it’s important to realize history is being made in this election. For the first time in U.S. history, a woman is the presidential candidate for one of the two major political parties. This inspires more female representation, and sets a precedent for any woman who ever hoped to get into politics that they too could one day become president of the United States.

While Hillary Clinton may be the first female presidential nominee, it’s not the first time a female has been nominated for a major party. Geraldine Ferraro, the first female vice presidential candidate for a major political party, was on the Democratic ticket in the 1984 presidential election. Even though the campaign was unsuccessful, it set the scene for more women in politics and leadership positions.

Without Ferraro, we wouldn’t have had vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin or even current presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Women’s representation in politics goes a long way.

Statistically, while more women than men have voted in elections since the 1980s, voter turnout for Millennials continues to be consistently lower than other generations of voters.

According to Pew Research, only 46 percent of eligible Millennial voters said they voted in 2012. I can only conclude two reasons most Millennials choose not to vote. One, they aren’t invested in politics to actually care enough; or two, they don’t believe their vote counts. I urge anyone who believes in these two reasons to realize that your vote does count. You have the chance to voice your opinion to your government.

I understand if you don’t support either candidate, but don’t look at it as just voting for president. Most people forget that in addittion voting for a presidential candidate, congressional seats are also up for grabs. Come Election Day I will do my civic duty and vote because it is my right as a citizen.

I believe Chris Wallace, at the end of the third presidential debate, said it best.

“One thing everyone here can agree on is we hope you will go vote. It is one of the honors and obligations of living in this great country.”

Jenna Pearsall is a journalism major from Pompton Plains, N.J. She can be reached at jenna.pearsall@student.shu.edu.

Author: Jenna Pearsall

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