The Lance

Why Voting is So Important

Claudia Martillo, Writer

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At the age of 18, you can get a tattoo, buy fireworks, serve on a jury, change your name, and so many more things, but the most important thing you can do at 18 is to vote.

In 1607, the voting requirements in the colony of Jamestown were to be 17, own land, be white, a male, and be a member of the Church. On the other hand, women were not granted the right to vote until 1920 through the Nineteenth Amendment; African Americans were granted the right to vote in 1870 through the Fifteenth Amendment, however, Jim Crow laws denied many Africans Americans their ability to vote through various means, such as poll taxes and grandfather clauses. The Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed by President Johnson, reaffirmed the rights of African Americans to vote.

Due to the struggles of important figures such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and several others, the least you can do is use the power they gave you and vote!

For today, people are voting in what is called the midterm elections. Midterm elections occur halfway through a President’s term. During the midterms, people are voting for members of the Senate, the entire House of Representatives, and several governors throughout the United States. Historically, the midterm elections are seen as a referendum on the President as the President has now had two years in office.  

The House of Representatives consists of 435 seats that are up for election every two years. 35 of the seats in the Senate are also up for election as members of the Senate serve staggered six-year terms. Also, 36 state governors’ offices, three US territory governors’ offices, former felons’ right to vote (in some states), many mayors’ offices, and local officials are up for election. There are also county, municipal and school board elections taking place, as well as a few state races for open seats in the legislature.

In New Jersey, voters will be deciding on a Senator and 12 members of Congress. The New Jersey candidates for Senate include Democrat Robert Menendez and Republican Bob Hugin. In addition to this, New Jersey voters are also determining a public referendum question regarding whether New Jersey should borrow $500 million dollars for upgrades to school facilities and more funding for technical schools. 

A common argument many Americans make is that their vote does not matter. However, there are many instances in which races have been decided by a single vote or have ended in a statistical tie over the last 20 years. Other than the logical response, it is your civic obligation you owe to this country. In the words of Sophia Bush, actress and activist, in a recent Instagram post to remind people to vote,  “The destiny of this country is not determined by our thoughts and prayers, but our actions and deeds.” Voting is the opportunity to make your voice heard. Vote like your life depends on it because one way or another, it does.

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Why Voting is So Important