Essays from Kentucky


Vick Locke
Lexington, KY
High School Student
Born: 1983
Essay themes: Internet voting, lower the voting age, education

ASHLEY D STYKES
MC KEE, KY
High school student
Born: 1983
Essay themes: Lowering the voting age, required debates between all candidates, Election Day a holiday, Internet voting, early education on politics

DAVID VANCE
GLASGOW, KY
College student
Born: 1981
Essay themes: Generational apathy, making a statement by not participating in elections

MARK BALL
HARLAN, KY
High school
Born: 1983
Essay themes:

It is your eighteenth birthday. You are an adult today. You are free to do anything (legal) that you want. So the first thing you are going to do is go out and vote, right? If you are in the group of younger citizens (ages 18 to 25), then the answer to that question is probably wrong. According to the Project Vote Smart/ Pew Charitable Trust 1999 survey, 65% of younger respondents are not likely to register, compared with 78% of older respondents (ages 26 and older)╣. Even more surprisingly, only 45% of younger people surveyed versus 64% of older replies suggest that they will definitely vote in the 2000 elections╣. These facts imply only one thing. America's young people must be encouraged to vote! While voting and the entire election process demand numerous reforms, gearing voting towards young people requires only a few, specific actions. To motivate our youth, we must assert required debates among all candidates for office, have instant runoff voting, and abolish the Electoral College.

Having mandatory debates among all candidate for a specific position is the first way in which we may support our young people to vote. By having debates, each candidate for office may express all of the views that he or she may hold. Many young people simply do not know enough of any candidate to mane a wise decision on whom to choose. Rather than choose a nominee who may have views contrary to their own, they simply pick no one, thus leading to a low voter turnout. Besides expressing individual opinions, debates also make bring lesser-known candidate into the light. Young voters who may know every detail of the republican and democrat candidates' beliefs might just disagree with both and decide not to vote. A required debate may be the only means of campaigning by a low-budget third party candidate. Giving our youth more options will definitely increase the chances of their voting. Another way mandated debates can influence young people is by persuading those voters that do not know for which candidate to vote. A large number of young voters simply do not care how they vote. Only one idea presented by a nominee for office my influence a young voter. A larger number of youth votes are essential if debates are required of all candidates running for office.

A larger number of youth will also vote if instant runoff voting is put into effect. Instant runoff voting will allow voters to feel more like their vote counts. With instant runoff voting, young voters may better choose their candidate by a majority vote. Knowing that their vote will count, young citizens are definitely more likely to cast their ballot. Instant runoff voting also takes less time than a normal election with a runoff. Since instant runoff voting saves another trip to the polls in case no one gets the majority vote, young people are more likely to go, making only one trip. Many young people are not the typical, lazy, "generation-x," slackers. On the contrary, many "college-age" people are hard-working, intelligent entrepreneurs making a living for themselves. While taking on the responsibility of school, a job, and even family, who has the time to vote twice? Instant runoff voting not only saves time for the voter, it saves time for the politician, too, in more ways than one. Besides getting their results sooner, they can initiate a bill to get instant runner in effect, sooner. According to article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, the states have the specific power to determine how they choose their electors ▓. In essence, instant runoff is immediate for the voters, immediate for the politician, and immediate for everyone involved.

Finally, the abolition of the Electoral College will support the decision to vote by our young potential voters. Though a candidate can get the majority popular vote, they may not necessarily get the electoral vote. This has happened three in the cases of John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Benjamin Harrison. All three candidates were elected President of the United States by electoral votes, however, their opponents won the popular vote│. Is winning an election without getting the most number of votes what we call a democracy? Many young people have the philosophy that if their vote does not directly count, then why vote? Abolition of he Electoral College will change these voters' minds as well fulfilling the promise stated by Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address of "...a government of the people, by the people, and for the people..."

Voting is both a right and a privilege. While many may care less about the government, others can be persuaded with mandatory debates, instant runoff voting, and no Electoral College. Voting is an idea for which many people have been willing to die. Minorities have struggled to obtain what so many of us take for granted by not even participating. Young people, I encourage you to go and vote!

References
1. Project Vote Smart/ Pew Charitable Trust 199 Survey, [Internet], 27 www.votesmsart.com January 2000

2. Instant Runoff Voting: Majority Rule, Maximum Choice, Third World

http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/politician/IRV_MaximumChoice.html Traveler, [Internet], 2 pages, 29 January 2000,

3. "Electoral College" Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 1999, [Computer
Software], 1999, Microsoft Corporation

Vick Locke
Lexington, KY
High School Student
Born: 1983

Essay themes: Internet voting, lower the voting age, education
It is very important that kids, my age, deserve a right to get involved in political participation. From the choices given in this topic, I can agree with Internet voting, lowering the voting age, and I would like to add one: public schools having a political class on voting. Internet voting would be a good option to take in political participation. A reason would be that kids, our age, are too young to get involved in things like this. Even if we were interested, the 26th Amendment stated that only people aged 18 or over can vote. But I feel that the government, President, Senate, etc....should see that some kids, like me, really have a strong interest in Politics. For me, I really put my attention to the current campaigns going on right now between Gov. George W. Bush and Vice Pres. Al Gore. I hear both sides very well. In order for me to pick one, I want the next President to be able to take care of our elders in the U.S., I want our taxes to be put to very good use, to help poor people, but most important of all...to take care of our country and to carry on the tradition that so many Presidents had like Washington, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, etc.. But for me that could never happen until I turn 18 in 2 years. Another reason would be that we should have a program online for kids my age to vote on. It may not have any use in the real campaign, but it can give us a real good idea of how it works and shows us results from all over the country of who would win. Lowering the voting age can be another good option in getting kids into political participation. I see it like this, we are the future of the United States and we should have a good involvement or knowledge in politics, because when we start voting, our votes will predict the future Presidents to come. I would say that 17 would be a good option. Anything lower than that age would not be appealing. We are worrying about SATs, ACTs, sports, having fun, guys/girls, what we are going to do/college preparation, etc.... This would be one way for us to be responsible and to show adults how we feel. Last, would be one of my options, a voting class. It can be a 1/2 credit semester class. This class should be for students who have a strong interest in politics. It should really be recommended as a class to take. Believe me, most kids will vote when we become adults so we should know how the voting system works, how do we register, and other important techniques. These are three options I feel that should get kids involved in political participation. I'm sure I'm not the only kid in America who feels the same way. Even though we really don't care much about the government and tend to do things for fun, we should enjoy our childhood but at the same time we should be prepared for the political issues. We never know we may be Senators, Representatives, Secretaries of State, Treasures, President, Governors, etc.

ASHLEY D STYKES
MC KEE, KY
High school student
Born: 1983

Essay themes: lowering the voting age, required debates between all candidates, Election Day a holiday, Internet voting, early education on politics
Political participation is becoming less of a priority in not only the younger generations but also with the baby boomers and older generations. As America begins to age, we see Americans place less emphasis on expressing their views through the voting process. Looking at the percentage of the voting population, which voted in a state's U.S. House election, we see that in Florida, which is known for its retirement population, that only 10.66 percent of eligible voters went to the polls. The only state with a lower turnout was Louisiana with a meager 9.85 percent voter turnout. While other states did have better participation the numbers still show a lack of interest in voting. Minnesota ranked the highest in this election but still had less than 60 percent of its eligible voters turning out. There should be something done to improve this type of statistic in order for America to continue to be a Democracy.

One way I feel we could increase voter turnout is by lowering the voting age from eighteen down to seventeen or even sixteen. If teenagers are responsible enough to drive a vehicle then why should they not be allowed to vote? This age change could increase the voting population immensely. Also, this age group are quite capable of keeping up with the news and the various political issues. Many students do this for classes in high school and many follow the issues just because they are interested in what is going on in our country. Americans should rethink the age restrictions that we currently have in place that limits many interested teenagers from casting their votes.

Another important issue at hand is should we require all candidates to debate? I feel the answer to this question is a resounding YES! This enables us to get a glimpse of the candidate's views on important issues that are going on in our society today. The more we know about the candidate and where he or she stands on issues the better we can place an informed and educated vote. More debates would likely bring people out to vote because we would know more about the issues and what the candidates stand for. We would also feel more confident and secure with making our decisions on who is the best candidate.

Making Election Day a national holiday could greatly increase voter turnout. It would put an end to the early morning crunch at the polls and the extremely long lines during the noon lunch hour. Most people that work try to vote during these two times and when the lines are too long they give up and go back to work without ever expressing their political views. If these workers stay at the polls to vote, they will be late getting to work and would most likely have their pay docked or even worse, they could lose their job. Even though the polls stay open until early evening, this is a time when most Americans are rushing to get home and are too tired to take the time to stop and vote. If Election Day were a holiday many of these difficulties would be eliminated making it much easier to go cast your vote.

A new and innovative idea that needs to be studied is to use the Internet for voting. There are many disabled or elderly people who are unable to get to their designated voting area so they just do not get to vote. Many Americans today have their own home computer linked to the Internet. Those who do not own a computer generally have access to one at a public library or through the school system. With this technology the voting process would be easier and readily accessible to anyone who would chose to vote on-line. Many problems would be eliminated by casting a vote with just a click of you mouse in the comfort of your own home. This would enable voters to know they can make a difference and should raise the voting statistics.

Lastly, we should emphasize the importance of voting to children at a young age. By the time these young children reach the legal voting age they would feel it is not only a privilege to vote but also that it is their duty to vote. It would be something they had grown up hearing about and would naturally want to participate in with great pride. This training could be started in elementary school with students incorporating voting issues in with the study of government and politics. This theme should be carried throughout middle and high school levels too. Teachers need to hold mock elections and encourage the students to become involved within the student governing process.

In closing, voting is a very prestigious honor that many countries around the world do not have. We should be very thankful for living in a free country and for this right especially. Everyone who is able to vote should go register so they can vote in the next election. If all of the preceding ideas were to be implemented, no one would have a problem casting their vote. By casting our vote it increases the voting statistics and our participation in the government. By voting we can be heard and make a difference!

DAVID VANCE
GLASGOW, KY
College student
Born: 1981

Essay themes: Generational apathy, making a statement by not participating in elections
Political Participation by young people is plummeting, and so is everything else. I look around, basking in what should be the beauty of the educational system, and what do I see? I see students sleeping. Sleeping in class, through lectures, labs, in the library, and everywhere else. I see naps on park benches, in restaurants, and in their closed eyelids and the rising and falling of their chest, I see more than rest, I see a mindset of an entire generation. How many students come to college because it is where their friends are? How many students come to college, take a part-time job at a gas station or a local department store, and in the blink of an eye college is no longer a priority and now all that matters is the job. I see students every second of every day, but very few have that fire in their eyes. Very few look forward to going to class. Very few are here to learn.

Then what are they here for? What are they anywhere for? What is the point of their life, what is the goal? Young people do not participate in political matters for the same reason they do not participate in anything else. Apathy. Young people do not care about themselves, their minds, and least of all, their country. Granted, there are exceptions, and I assume myself to be one of them. Why am I not registered to vote? I am uninformed. Surely this is a disease that will be cured before the presidential primaries begin.

But what I have stated is obvious, and in fact is the question itself. What can be done to dissolve the apathy of young people? Children are being raised improperly. Schools are teaching wrong. Young people are working too hard. Young people aren't working hard enough. Everyone's too obsessed with money. Everyone's too obsessed with sex. All of these are interesting theories, but they are all wrong.

Perhaps young people of today, the most educated of their age group in history, see something the former young people didn't. They see their leaders acting like children. They see the candidates for the leadership of the free world turning society (because, yes, elected officials hold in their power the ability to shape society) turning government into a soap opera. It is my belief that young people are in fact participating. Young people have taken a stand. They realize that the only way to fully show their contempt for political corruption is to not vote. Young people are making a difference by not voting, and showing in fact that there is no difference.