I’m not the kind of person who keeps up with the news. Or at least, I wasn’t until about three weeks ago, when my mom explained the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s actions, over an after-school snack and game of UNO. Since then, I’ve been obsessed with every detail, and in the process I have become more connected to the outside world.
I’ve also become more aware that my peers are not doing the same.
In class, a teacher referenced the inquiry as a part of our lesson. Had all students heard about it? I was astounded to learn that many had not.
For those of you who may not know, this all started with an Aug. 12 whistleblower report filed with the intelligence community’s inspector general. It incited a growing debate over whether President Trump abused his power in a July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine. Trump encouraged President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to “investigate one of the president’s main domestic political rivals” in exchange for military aid he had withheld.
But I’m not here to tell you the news. I’m here to tell you that there is something you can do about it. You can register to vote.
Maybe you’re 16 or 17, like me, and you’re thinking, “I can’t vote yet. I’m not old enough!” Last year, that would have been a valid excuse, but effective July 1, Washington citizens of the age of 16 and 17 can register to vote along with their adult peers, according to the law. While you still cannot vote until you’re 18, you can start learning about politics now, so that when you do turn 18 and get a ballot, you’ll be an educated voter.
I registered a couple of days ago, and it took me six minutes and 32 seconds, including retrieving my wallet from the other room and re-entering my information a second time due to a silly mistake I had made. Take six minutes now, and share your voice with the world.
Younger voters are always the least consistent. In the 2016 presidential election, only 39.4% of 18-24-year-olds voted, 16.6% less than the total average, according to the United States Census Bureau. Take your six minutes now and show the world we care about our future.
In 1971, with a 401 to 19 vote by the House of Representatives, the 26th Amendment was passed, lowering the voting age to 18 from 21. Adults and teenagers alike had been rallying; if they were old enough to fight, they were old enough to vote. Take your six minutes now and prove we deserve this right.
Immediately after the 26th Amendment was ratified, the voting turnout rate of 18- to 24- year-olds shot up to a 55.4%. When President Bill Clinton was elected, rates rose once again. And again when President Barack Obama was elected there was about a 49% voter turnout. Take your six minutes now, so we can make these numbers soar again.
We were not given a voice to be silent. We were given the opportunity to take a stand for our empowerment, our future, our world. Take your six minutes now, so we can prove to everyone that we have opinions that matter.
But remember that registering is only half of the battle. As adults and adults-to-be, we need to do our part and stay informed of the world around us. Take your six minutes now, and stay aware of the world around you.
With the possibility that the House will proceed to impeach the president, your vote in the 2020 election matters even more. Take your six minutes now, and register to vote.