By Brooke Bailey
On my high school graduation day, two years ago, I was lucky enough to give a speech to my classmates. My last piece of advice to those 200 students was to always pay attention and vote. I recall hearing laughter and snickering throughout the audience while making my way back to my seat, as this was a rather typical statement of mine. However, this wasn’t intended as a light hearted punch-line to fluidly end my speech. I sincerely meant this, and hoped it would resonate in the minds of my classmates. Our generation has been poisoned with a pessimistic view concerning the importance of our vote. We have to change that view, because our vote is our voice in this extraordinary world.
According the US Census Report, less than 20 percent of eligible 18 to 29-year-olds cast ballots in the 2014 election year, meaning that about 80 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds did not vote. Think about this. Think about how many college students’ voices were unheard during last year’s election. No matter what side of the political spectrum you settle with, our generation is more likely to be eco-friendly, burdened by a lack of jobs and saddled with college debt. These issues many of us care so deeply about, were only represented by 20 percent of our entire generation. We are citizens of this country, and we must express the interests and worries held by our age group. In order for a democratic system to be successful, people need to be engaged. Our country thrives when people pay attention and participate.
This Tuesday, Nov. 3, is election day. If you are not registered to vote, I would urge you to take advantage of Maine’s same day voter registration and get to the polls. There are three different questions on the ballot for Maine people to vote on. Question one is whether or not to approve the Maine Clean Elections Initiative. Voting ‘yes’ would increase penalties for violating campaign finance rules, increase funding for Maine Clean Elections, and adjust political ad rules. Voting ‘no’ would keep the current laws unchanged. Question two is whether or not to issue a $15 million bond for housing construction projects for low-income seniors. Question three is whether or not to issue a $85 million bond for transportation projects. Voting ‘yes’ on these questions would increase these bonds, while voting ‘no’ would leave the current funding unchanged.
There is no excuse for not voting. We are all able to take a little bit of time out of our busy week to pay attention and educate ourselves with what is going on around us. Older generations persistently accuse our generation as being self-absorbed, pampered and lazy. Let’s prove them wrong by getting out there and fulfilling our civic duties. People who say that our votes don’t matter, must be unclear with how our system truly works. Even if some of the policies or people that we vote for don’t win, it is still a mean of communication between our generation and the rest of the country. They will know what is important to us as we begin to take action in this country. It is our turn. The only way our voices will not be heard is if we don’t go out and vote for what we believe in.