Written by Sarah Baker
As a recent 19-year-old who missed the cutoff for voting in the 2012 presidential election by a matter of weeks, I was incredibly disappointed to not be able to participate in a presidential election until 2016. My wise mother, however, consoled me by reminding me that there are plenty of ways to use my voice for change at the state and local levels long before then. So I took the plunge and registered to vote yesterday, and I intend to vote in the upcoming primaries on June 24th (voter registration closes on June 3rd). The whole process took me a maximum of two minutes, and the only piece of non-memorized information I needed was my driver’s license number. It really is that quick and easy.
Projections indicate that voter turnout for the Maryland primaries could be as low as 15%. I hope this sets alarm bells off for some of you, as it is simply ridiculous to allow such a small percentage of our state population to dictate who our candidates will be. It is especially ridiculous given how easy it is to register to vote.
If you’re wondering why you should even bother with voting in the primary, remember that local government has the greatest, most tangible effect on our day-to-day lives. It effects what developments go up or don’t (and where), it affects our school board’s decisions, and it affects millions of other little local issues that we forget are simply dealt with by the county government without us even having to breathe. Also, no matter how little progress is being made in our federal government, we have the ability as a state to affect real social and political change. We forget that often the federal government bases its own policy off of states’ examples. Thus the state and local levels are where the real decisions are being made. It is not only our right as citizens to vote, but our responsibility.
For some of us, this is our first opportunity to exercise our voices in government, and I suggest we use it. After all, don’t we remember a time when we would excitedly wear our parents’ “I voted’ stickers? I think it’s time we earned some stickers of our own.