Essay themes: Untrustworthy candidates, Internet voting, improve civics education
WILLIAM R. IRWIN
CHERYL D MUNCH
LEIGH L OLIVER
KHOI D THAN
TIFFANY CHERI CORDEIRO
JEREMIAH J. JACKSON
Essay themes: Untrustworthy candidates, Internet voting, improve civics education
Changes in Education and Accessibility
Who wants to vote anyway??? Hey, I live in Oregon, the president is already decided on before our voting polls close. Yes, we live in an apathetic society, but for reason. As a 21 year old registered voter, I generally vote, but I can understand why my classmates chose not to follow suit.
First of all, we always feel like we are being tricked by the politicians advertising campaigns. It seems that whoever has the most money and big business support will have the best ads and with them, an improved public image. I would appreciate a non-biased source on the Internet that would give accurate information about all the candidates running for an office, small or big party. It would need to be short and simple to understand. Also beneficial would be descriptions of what the more obscure parties stand for. Democrat and Republican parties have been traditional household names, but many young voters are interested in new ideas that are better expressed by other groups or independents.
WILLIAM R. IRWIN
Essay themes: Understand importance, use modern culture & media
At what point does democratic America fail? When does she loose her ability to govern? Only when her subjects loose faith in her principles. Only when her subjects no longer feel the need to participate in her existence. Abraham Lincoln once said of America's fate that "If destruction be our lot we must be its authors and finishers." He was referring to the Civil War not voter participation, but his sentiments echo through the corridors of time.
If we as young Americans refuse to stand and take our responsibility as Americans and if those in power do not do something to change the structure of our voting system we are surely domed. How can our nation survive as we know it with only a small percentage of the population voting. When the responsibility is kept in the hands of the few, the hands of the many will soon think those of the voting minority to be tyrants -- and their policies tyranny.
Many young Americans today refuse to vote because they view the system as untouchable. They feel that if they do vote it will affect very little in their day-to-day lives. They will vote for a senator that will move to Washington and become a bureaucrat; caring nothing for their views on taxes, abortion, and education. To effect change, Americans must be willing to change the system. Give voters more opportunity to vote on issues that effect their lives. Some of the most important issues in United States history have never been voted on by the American people. Abortion, civil rights, balancing the budget, and campaign finance reform have never been brought to the people for a vote. It is time for change. If Americans did have these issues in their hands young voters would turn out in droves. Imagine an eighteen year old who just finished high school and is seeking to better himself in college had the ability to vote on a measure that would give him more financial aid for college. He would certainly be willing to take the time to stand and let his voice be heard.
We live in a "high tech age." The tedious task of voting has become obsolete in our world of internet access, cell phones, and pagers. It is not convenient to go to a public meeting place to vote. The internet reaches virtually every home in America. Let us use this to our advantage. Let us present the American public with the ability to cast their votes from the convenience of their own computers. The internet has become as secure as any other form of communication.
Economic factors play into so many political issues. Why? Because Americans care about money. It is their livelihood. They base their decisions on what it will cost them or what they will make. Will they be able to afford that new car if this issue is past or how will they pay for their college loans if their money is slipping through their fingers and into Washington's hands? These are questions that Americans ask. If voting participation by the younger generation is so vital to democratic America's survival let us give tax breaks to young Americans who choose to make a difference and vote. In the long run, America will be much better off spending a few dollars to increase voter turn out, and save America from the tyranny that will befall her if we continue down this ill trodden path.
Americans would be much more inclined to vote if they had the ability to see candidates for what they are. Americans want to see behind the rhetoric and political side-stepping to what the office seekers really stand for. If the government would be willing to provide a questionnaire that all candidates would fill out, describing their views, it would be a help to the American public who find the candidates repulsive due to their negative campaign commercials and their ability to avoid answering straight questions with straight answers.
Zachary Taylor based his entire presidential campaign on nothing more than his military reputation without even mentioning the main issue of the time. Slavery. Americans deserve to know what their candidates believe. They deserve to have the issues in hand so that they can delineate the difference between facts and political hogwash.
Who is the hottest act at this moment in pop culture? Ricky Martin? Shaq? Brittany Spears? Celebrities are the key to the younger generation. A vast sea of unharnessed power lies before us. If this great force could be applied to our cause the tide could be turned. American youth base many of their decisions what pop culture tells them. Bellbottoms are back. Disco is sure to return. Why because it is a high form of musical expression? No, because pop culture brings it back. It would be of the greatest influence to put influential pop figures at the forefront of our battle for voters and let them speak.
The time is now. We must open the door to a new dawn. If we hold back, the consequences will be devastating. All that we know and love hinges on this issue. Let us stand now for what we believe. Let us not be the generation that made Abraham Lincoln's words prophetic. Let not America's destruction be on our heads!
CHERYL D MUNCH
Essay themes: More moral scrutiny; anti-electoral college; anti-projected outcomes before all the votes are tallied
I believe the lack of interest in politics among young people is largely in response to four factors: behaviors exhibited by individuals chosen to represent and govern our country, the process involving the electoral college, the release of projected winners before west coast polls have closed, and dissatisfaction among our elders with regard to the state of the government. Individually, these events can play an important part in how we perceive democracy in action; combined, they overwhelm, therefore stifle, the urge toward political participation by young people in the United States.
We, the young adults of today's American society, require politicians to prove themselves positive role models in all aspects. Politicians who speak of family values, morality, spirituality, respect, and honor, and are then proven to be liars, reinforce the negative impression the public holds toward its elected and appointed officials. Think back to when a man's word meant something; it was their bond, their promise. Now, it seems as though people will say anything to achieve their personal goals, but never follow through with the promises they make. A number of young people see their vote as unimportant, since the electoral college can override the will of the people. Young people need the assurance that they have a voice and will be heard. A feeling of extreme pride should be evident when speaking of our country and the people who run it. Instead, we are faced with voting for the lesser of the two evils, or trying to discern which candidate will deviate the least from the will of the majority of his constituents. Many young people living on the west coast have seen evidence of how unimportant their vote really is. Due to the computerized state of our nation, the practice of announcing the projected presidential winner on the east coast before the polls close on the west coast, dissuades many people, from all age groups and walks of life, from voting. How many times has that scenario been repeated throughout the west coast? The east coast is populated sufficiently to elect a president; it is painfully evident that our vote does not count.
Unfortunately, most citizens of the United States view the political scene as dishonest. Whether it stems from our parents or other respected elders, the continuous denigrating of the American government adversely influences young people. We are listening. We want to have pride in our country, yet we are repeatedly bombarded by the misdeeds of our politicians. Young people need to make their voices heard by being better educated in political processes, volunteering to work on election campaigns, and aligning ourselves with a candidate in whom we can place our trust. We do not wish to make an uniformed, blind leap of faith. However, through greater political involvement, we might come to the realization that we can make a difference in how our world is run.
How can we grow to have greater trust in our government? The electoral college undermines the vote of American citizens. Our country was built on democracy and our right to vote. The electoral college should never have been allowed to interfere with the vote of the American people. Democracy was designed to be for the people and by the people, not by the electoral vote. The electoral college should be removed from the realm of politics. How can we grow to have greater trust in our government officials? Amore thorough screening process and investigation of candidates' moral values would allow fewer conflicts of family values and reduce dishonest acts in office. The assurance that any public official involved in immoral, illegal, or illicit behaviors would be removed from office immediately would help to regain the confidence many citizens have lost in their leaders.
How can we reinstate the importance of an individual's vote? To be fair to all citizens, since the polls on the east-coast close so much earlier than the polls on the west coast, election results should not be divulged until the following day. Winner projections would fall into the same category; they discourage voter participation. Due to immoral corruption in our country, the overwhelming involvement of the Electoral College, early release of projected winners from the east coast, and the disillusionment of our adult population, our young people are becoming less and less involved in American government. It is very difficult to have a high percentage of participation when people feel that they are not a part of their own future.
The aforementioned are some of the views held by American youth in reference to political interaction, who feel as though their future is already laid out, and they have no means with which to change it. The political arena is perceived to be too large for personal individual involvement. It is particularly overwhelming for young adults. The government is viewed as too large and too powerful to attempt to change. Perhaps, through hard work and education, we young adults can learn to view politics as a positive force in our country.
Essay themes: Young people feel their vote doesn't count,
concise information on the voting process to distribute, right
to vote for those under 18 that pay taxes
Therefore, it needs to be impressed upon high school students how important their vote is. The value of a vote needs to be incorporated in school material, along with more emphasis on the history of what it took to gain political freedom. In history we learn about the Revolutionary War, but nobody teaches us the significance of what we gained when we became democratic. Also, it should be pointed out how many other countries do not have this freedom, this luxury people take for granted. Students should be made to understand what it would be like living in a country where you can not control who runs the government, or what law are passed concerning your rights and every day living. Then, I think young adults would appreciate the right to vote.
In addition, I think it is important that the voter's pamphlet should be easier to understand. In a world of fast food, instant email, and video games, people are not going to sit down for two hours trying to understand what each measure means. The pamphlets should be clear, concise and in plain English. Televised political debates should be mandatory at every election, and when voting on measures, similar debates should be televised. There is no shame in making information easier to understand and easier to access.
Also, we should change the legal voting age. Age does not show maturity, unfortunately. There are many 17-year-old people perfectly competent to take part in the political system. Moreover, there are many legal adults who have no business voting. The distinction between voters and non-voters should be whether they pay taxes. If a person starts paying taxes when they are 16, then they should have the right to vote. People died for the ideal of no taxation without representation. Likewise, if a 45-year-old person does not pay any taxes, they should not vote. This would exclude everyone in prison, nursing homes, homeless, and the unemployed.
These are all important factors in why young people do not vote, and if they are changed, I believe more people would vote. However, there is an even more important issue. This does not simply affect young people, but many older adults as well, but only has to do with the presidential election. We need to abolish the Electoral College. There is no need for it, and it makes people feel that voting is futile. Every vote should count and whichever candidate or measure receives the popular vote should win. It is a very simple idea, but for some reason, America does not practice it.
My U.S. History teacher once told my class that if anyone could come up with a way to abolish this archaic practice, he would give them an "A" for the semester. He meant this jokingly of course, but it shows that it is an important issue. I have discussed this with friends and classmates, and they all feel that the Electoral College is ridiculous. The fact that it is possible for the candidate with the most votes to lose is completely ludicrous. Like many businesses, we should cut out the middleman and save time, while gaining more votes.
There are many steps this country should take to increase the voting population in young adults. Society should remind them voting is a privilege that brave men and women earned through blood shed. It is a privilege many people do not have. The government should not have to bribe anybody to vote with tax deductions, or any sort of bonuses, but there is nothing wrong with making it easier to vote. Education is an important key. The most important problem is the Electoral College, which creates a sense of futility among voters. The freedom to vote is precious, and we should emphasize it. After all, it is the reason our forefathers formed this country, it has set us apart from less civilized countries for years, and it is what makes this country so great.
Essay themes: Electoral college
Corruption of Democracy In the 1998 election, only four states achieved sixty percent or more of the voter turnout. During that election, twenty-five states received fifty percent or more of the voter turnout. American is having problems with its voter turnouts and our future system is in jeopardy. The younger persons of America have the same apathy passed down from their parents. Instead of changing the turnout through education, America should change the system of electing officials.
Due to the past precedents, the element of democracy, media coverage and education, America should abolish the Electoral College in order to increase the political involvement amongst younger individuals in America. In our history, the vote of the Electoral College can differ from the will of the people. One vote is critical. For example, one individual decided the election of 1824. Speaker of the House Henry Clay coerced the Representatives into voting for John Quincy Adams, who neither received the popular majority or the most Electoral votes. In turn, because of this "corrupt" bargaining, Clay was named the Secretary of State. Both the people and the Electoral College elected Andrew Jackson, but he did not receive the proper majority of the Electoral votes and lost the Presidency. Coincidentally he received the next Presidential election and hired a new Secretary of State. Another presidential election, decided by a single vote, was in 1876, when Samuel J. Tilden received 184 Electoral votes out of the 185 needed to win and had almost 250,000 more popular votes than Rutherford B. Hayes. But, again, because of a committee comprised of fifteen men, the decision of the President by the people and the Electoral College was overturned unconstitutionally. As a result, Rutherford B. Hayes became President and actually put off the search for equality for all races for approximately a hundred years. Likewise, Benjamin Harrison lost the popular vote to Grover Cleveland, but the Electoral College decided that Benjamin Harrison would be better.
Thus, many times, the Electoral College has disregarded the opinion of the people to choose their leader, leaving the choice to the "elite" in the oligarchy. As evident by the element of democracy in America, the Electoral College depicts a needless faction in American politics. Granted, America is a democracy in a republic, but the office of the President represents the only individual that speaks on behalf of its citizens. By allowing this oligarchy, the Constitution denies the people their rights as Americans. At the time of the writing, the founding fathers made the right decision, but by today's standards, the people deserve the right by popular vote to elect their leader. However, with today's antiquated system, individual votes count only in each state that goes towards the Electoral College votes. This now contributes to apathy towards voting amongst the public. The Electoral College represents an unnecessary process through the increase in media coverage. Although the Constitution was signed on September in 1787, the states did not ratify it until March 1789 due to the time it took to inform the people and for news to travel. Comparing that time period to present day, the speed of information travels faster now. Currently, as of a 1993 estimate, five hundred forty million radios were in America and there were two hundred fifteen million televisions. Now, an American citizen possesses the ability to watch the debates, view speeches, and become involved in the process instantly, as it happens. Computers and the Internet greatly impact American society and education in a political sense. Chat rooms and instant messaging online along with 24-hour news channels allows people to express their opinions. They can know anything about any candidate. This mass media coverage has enabled mass information, leading to no need for the out-dated Electoral College. An increase in education also greatly impacts the need for change. When the founding fathers wrote the great document, the average American did not posses the ability to make a decision as that of the President of the United States, let alone read or write efficiently. Hamilton states in the Federalist Papers, "It was equally desirable that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station." They felt that an American citizen could decide if someone such as Timothy McVeigh is to live or not. But, if they should decide who leads them, Heaven forbid! Public education also increased over time. During the time of the ratification, the literacy rate remained quite low so that the average individual had trouble voting. But, as public education and funding increased in the 1800 and 1900s, so too the literacy rate increased. A 1979 estimate determined that ninety-seven percent of the population age fifteen and over can read and write. Leaving only three percent of the population, America boasts of rather high marks in reading. With this literacy rate, Americans watch television, use the internet, and comprehend the qualifications one possesses in order to be the President of the United States.
Conclusively, the Electoral College not only discriminates not only those "unqualified" by Constitutional standards to make the decision for the President, but it discriminates against the political scientists, graduates, and reporters who know a significant amount of information about the candidates. When Madison and the Constitutional Convention wrote the Constitution, society was different than compared to today. All people are generally concerned about those who lead their country and represent them. With the direct election, the people including the youth will become more involved with the process. Knowing that their vote does make the difference, Americans will think about their decision. The Constitution needs to evolve and change as society evolves and changes. We must dissolve from this oligarchy and hypocrisy to follow the democracy that our founding fathers would now have meant it to be. Our system of education and technology has evolved, so too must our government. "Of the people, by the people, for the people," so too must our President be elected.
Essay themes: Campaign finance reform, internet voting, election day registration
Youth voter participation in recent elections, especially during years when there is not a Presidential election, has been shockingly low. There are a number of ways that our country can improve this problem, and a few reforms of the electoral process, including real campaign finance reform, internet voting, and election-day voter registration, would be effective in improving young voter turnout. Before I begin, I would like to point out that voter participation is not only an important issue every four years, rather, it is important every election cycle.
Youth voter turnout may be bad during the general election every four years, but it is simply awful during other years, especially in the primaries. Just like every other group, youth participation drops during these "minor" elections, some of which are full of very important issues. These elections are often decided by much smaller margins than those in the general election, and are just as important for youth to get involved with. That said, let's get down to what needs to be done to improve turnout among youth. Internet voting, while only in its preliminary stages, shows tremendous potential. Web sites such as vote.com have had tremendous success, although whether or not this success can translate into real, secure Internet voting remains to be seen. However, the idea has much potential. Here in Oregon, after an initiative was passed requiring that vote-by-mail ballots be mailed to every registered voter in the state, voter participation significantly increased. The primary reason was due to voter's newfound ability to vote at their leisure, and from their own home. The "hassle" of voting was notably smaller, increasing the number of voters. This would suggest that Internet voting, which voting even easier than vote-by-mail, would have the same effect, but to a greater extent.
Youth participation would also probably greatly increase, as in general, young people are more comfortable with technology than their elders. Internet voting seems a logical step from vote-by-mail, and one that could also improve voter education, as there are no space limitations on the Internet as there are in an election bulletin. There could easily be links to discussion on the issues, candidate home pages, or how an incumbent voted online. All of these are difficult to ascertain in traditional voting, and would certainly help for a more involved voting populace, particularly among youth.
Election-Day voter registration would also help increase young voter participation. Under current law, one must register weeks ahead of an election in order to be eligible to vote in that election. Often this deadline comes before some even know an election is going to occur, effectively barring those who are uninformed, due to their either busy schedule or lack of exposure to news sources. If this barrier were eliminated, it would be easier to motivate youth to go out and vote. Another very important reform that is necessary to improve youth voter participation is campaign finance reform.
One of the main reasons that youth are not getting to the polls is that a lot of them do not think that their vote counts. Perhaps they are right, due to all the money that flies around Washington. In order for voters, especially younger ones to trust their politicians and the election process, campaign finance reform is a necessity. The current laws are too lenient when it comes to campaign finance. Multiple loopholes, like "soft money", exist, enabling corrupt elected officials with enough money to keep their offices for seemingly endless periods. Restrictions on soft money, government funding of elections, and free TV airtime are all possible solutions to the campaign finance puzzle. I have worked on political campaigns before, and seen the candidate often spend more time in his or her day making fundraising calls, rather than talking to voters. This harms the purity of the political process, putting dollars over voters. In some cases, it is almost a legalized form of bribery, trading dollars for key votes on issues. We need reform in this area, or any other reforms will be moot. To get youth to vote, they must first trust that their votes are important, and under current conditions, they are not. Rather, money has become what is important to the political elite. These issues should be of the utmost importance to not only youth, but to anyone interested in fair politics in the US. Without equal representation, either racially, ethnically, or by age or gender in our government, the public's best interests will not be served. One group will dominate, ignoring the interests of those groups not represented. Without voter participation from all groups, a bias will emerge in our government, an unfair bias. This cannot be allowed to continue, and only participation by all groups will help fix the problem.
Essay themes: Ineffectiveness of proposed reforms, civics
and voting education
First of all, making changes to our electoral system via the potential reforms mentioned would only, once again, ignore the deep-rooted answer that lies at the heart of this nation that should have been exposed and implemented many years ago. The word "reform" is a bandage that will hide the obvious answer to the stated problem letting the problem breath a little while the answer awaits a chance to be uncovered! A day in the life of a parliamentary system would take this country back to the middle ages. Great Britain is a great example of why we should not even consider this, just look at the time it takes them to make a decision and they even have a Queen! A unicameral system would simply erase the democracy that this country has fought for, generation after generation.
Sure the Internet would make access easier but would our youth visit the site, much less vote? A day off? - Okay, I'll take it but before we get too excited over another government granted day off to be used just to vote, let's really examine what the real problem is! I am the real problem! I am 18-years-old, a senior in high school with a 3.9 GPA with very little knowledge of the process and reasons as to why I should vote. My U.S. Government class introduced me to the history of voting but I was not taught as to why I should? What comes to mind when I am told to go register is intimidation. Where do I go and when there what do I do, after all I do not want to look like I don't know what I'm doing, I have a big ego at 18.
The fear of the unknown comes to mind and why put myself through that when my one vote won't make much difference anyway! Will it? Yes, I am a U. S. citizen and I do want to exercise my right to vote which is guaranteed through the constitution of the United States of America but without an understanding of current day events and a good education on the pros and cons of the issues and candidates - why cast my vote? What am I really voting for? The impact of our youth voting has yet to be seen in the United States. What shall we do you ask? Make changes? Changes you seek! Then produce knowledgeable voting youth utilizing what is at the heart of this country - our educational system!
Imagine a high school classroom full of 14-15-year-olds with an eagerness to learn, each with the ability to from opinions when constructive facts are understood, and each capable of making choices and drawing conclusions. They are in their assigned seats and waiting to get started! What curriculum would cause such attention and eagerness you ask? It's a 3-year mandatory "Let's Vote!" high school course. You will begin your sophomore year and complete the course as a senior. An assigned number of credits will be earned each semester, then the total applied towards graduation points. Why establish a mandatory 3-year "Let's Vote!" course in all high schools nationwide? In a 3-year time frame you would be taught how to register, do this in class when each turns 18, choose issues being debated today, (no past issues information please!) then investigate, study and debate each one through team assignments, assign students (names drawn out of a hat = democracy) to be candidates running for offices, let them campaign (in class only), hold mock elections per semester then graph the results, watch what happens! The results will change with each election. Why? After all, it is only natural for one to change ones mind when equipped with information, data and facts! The graph will reveal how at first vote one guesses at ones choices and with each election on the same issues the guess work goes away and applied knowledge will give you a different set of results. The final election will be held your senior year with a victory celebration honoring the winners.
Now that would give me such a great feeling of accomplishment and what a preparation for my adult world of voting! Then and only then would I exercise my right to vote, with the knowledge that my vote will count and could make a difference! Yes, our country has not yet seen the impact of our youth vote. Look out America when they do!
LEIGH L OLIVER
Essay themes: Increased education in high school concerning politics, registering to vote in high school
I asked several students around my high school if they have voted, if they plan on voting next time, and how they feel about voting. The common response was, "No, I haven't voted. I don't know if I am going to, and I really don't care." This is the response that not just teens at my school have, but teens across the United States, which is horrible to hear, since the government spends so much trying to advertise, and to target the youth to get them involved, and the youth just simply do not care. I also asked some peers why they did not choose to vote. One reply was, "I don't know how, and it doesn't matter anyway. Anything I vote for wouldn't happen. My mom and dad complain so much about the government and how all the campaigns are fixed, or based on money. What I have to say wouldn't make a difference." This is how most teens feel. They do not know how to vote, and they do not understand how the government works. They allow how their parents feel influence how they feel.
Teens do not comprehend how everything works, or why things happen, and they, being uneducated avoid voting, let others create these feelings of distrust and disinclination. For these reasons I feel that voting should be a part of the curriculum. By this I mean, a government class should be offered all four years in high school. The freshman class would consist of teachings about how all the branches of government worked, how bills are passed, and then to go on to a general description of how voting works. These topics are important to study as freshmen, because before the youth can learn about the important factors, they need to learn the basics. This will prepare them for their next years classes, which go into more depth.
The sophomore class will of course touch up on the things learned freshman year and then apply that knowledge to current events. Also the sophomores will learn about how petitions get started and use that knowledge to create mock petitions, as well as mock bills. Towards the end of the year they will briefly go over how their local government works, and maybe go on a few field trips to tour the state house or some government buildings.
The junior class will focus more on the local government and compare it to what they know about the national government. Taking what they learned about bills and petitions they can hold a vote on choosing which ones they feel should go on the ballots and hold debates to discuss and argue their opinions. They will also be responsible for watching the news and/or reading the newspapers then writing up papers applying what they read or watched to what they learned in class.
The senior class will review everything learned in passed years and then start to piece the puzzle together. They will all be responsible for making a real petition about something that they feel is important and actually submitting it to the local or even national government. They will be responsible for writing letters to elected officials asking questions about things they have been inquiring about or to comment on something they have heard, read, or seen on the news. As elections, local or nation wide, roll around they will prepare for filling out their ballots. In class they will hold mock elections to compare later with the actual results. The seniors who are of age will be required to register to vote. In class when they do the mock elections, registered teens will actually vote, and the school will turn in their votes.
Voting in the curriculum would be good to have because it would teach us the importance of voting and it would give us a sense of being heard. Also it starts us on a lifelong journey of voting and a lifelong journey of teaching newer generations the same things that we learned.
Another method of getting teenagers to vote would be to include registering to vote as a part of registering for high school. When the seniors go to sign up for their classes there should be a separate section for those who are of age to sign up to vote. This way it provides an easy and convenient way to register. It would make teens more comfortable and more likely to continue when they see a large group of their peers doing the same thing, including their friends. This would provide a sense of self-reassurance.
Both of these methods will engrave the importance of voting in youth's heads. Through curricular involvement and through school registration, it will provide convenience and positive peer pressure. It is imperative that teens begin to voice their opinions now. As time passes we (the teenagers) will be the ones making all the decisions. Through these methods, it would become a part of our everyday living and learning. We will enter our adulthood with the knowledge and be able to pass it on to future generations. But if we do not start now our future will be doomed for corruption.
KHOI D THAN
Essay themes: Making voting easier, incentives for voting, providing lesser-known candidates with exposure
The right of American citizens to elect our country's leaders is one of the characteristics that set our democratic nation apart from others. However, an increasing number of Americans are viewing the vote more as a privilege than what it actually is: a responsibility. Thus, political participation amongst young Americans is declining rapidly. This fact does not hold well for the United States' future, for as the number of voters expressing their opinions goes down, so does the probability of electing the candidates that best represent the public as a whole. Measures must be taken to counteract the downward trend. In order for this to happen, three main things must occur. The voting process must be made less time-consuming, incentives must be offered to those who do vote, and, most importantly, lesser-known candidates must be granted more publicity so that American citizens can better identify the politicians that best reflect their views.
Our nation has the worldwide reputation for being inhabited by both very busy and very lazy individuals; therefore, the voting process must be made more feasible. One such measure towards this aim, Election Day voter registration, would reduce the total number of trips one must take from two to one. As a result, more of the country's harried and lethargic people will be willing to actually complete the entire process. Registration on Election Day would be much safer and less troublesome than other possible methods (such as Internet registration, which would encourage many to purposefully cause problems).
Along with simplifying the voting process, incentives could be offered to those who do decide to exercise their precious responsibility. Why not have random drawings at voting locales for attractive items (a nice car, for instance)? Or even offer a slight tax reduction to all voting individuals? Slicing off only twenty or so dollars from already-high taxes would persuade much of the public to show up on Election Day. However, potential voters should not be bribed. Individuals should participate in Election Day for the good of their country, not necessarily for themselves. Having a fewer number of informed voters that believe strongly in their chosen candidates is infinitesimally more preferable than having every eligible adult turn up without a clue of the numerous candidates and their views.
The most important change that current politics must undergo, increasing the exposure of third party and independent candidates, would resultantly increase the public's options and interest in the year's campaign. This reform includes better ballot access for those "smaller" candidates, as well as including them in national-coverage debates. In a political scene dominated solely by Democrats and Republicans, many Americans feel frustration in not being able to identify a particular candidate with whom to share all of the same values. Presenting the country's citizens with more choices would greatly boost political participation. Perhaps, in order to assist the selection of a proper leader, a simple bulletin could be mailed to every household that clearly and simply charts each candidate's positions on important topics. By being able to confidently select one person in whom they can trust, individual hopes for the country would be elevated, and more of the United States' eligible voters will be likely to cast their votes. Fewer and fewer young Americans are showing up on that important November day to participate in our great nation's future, meaning that the candidates that are selected may not accurately represent the desires of the entire public.
Steps can be taken to fight this plummeting turnout. Registering for the vote, and the actual action of voting itself, could be combined into one step in order to simplify the process. Incentives could be offered to all voters, such as a small reduction of their taxes. Lastly, candidates of smaller parties could be granted more exposure on ballots and in debates. Although these politicians might have the necessary experience, they might not have the grand campaign funds of the more famous leaders and therefore cannot reach out to as many people. Their overall stances on important issues, however, may better reflect the views of many Americans and encourage those citizens to cast their votes. By placing these methods into use, voter turnout will undoubtedly increase with time, and we can assure that the politicians who best reflect the ideals of the American people will properly overlook our extraordinary Union.
TIFFANY CHERI CORDEIRO
Essay themes: The identity of the younger generation, the pros of the electoral system, increasing the number of voting locations
200 years ago the right to vote was an elusive dream to many future Americans. Their dream of having a say in how they lived and were governed was of utmost importance to those who were to become proud Americans; A privilege worth fighting a war, a right worth cherishing. Today our forefathers would look at our society and shudder with fright for the future of their country. If they could see how our youth and future caretakers of America have abolished national morals and carelessly abused the rights our country went to war to secure I fear that our forefathers would rather we were still a monarchy. However, I do not believe that there is a particular source deserving of all blame. Rather the simple fact that the generation gap is ever widening and the pace of society's change is rapidly increasing without the necessary adjustments for accommodating the issues of today's America.
As a country we need to embrace a system that is adaptive to society in its entirety in order to have a greater percentage of participation by the youth of America today and the leaders of America tomorrow. It is a fact that today's youth has more money to spend as they please and more convenient means of achieving the instant gratification that humans crave. With these undermining conditions high on the value lists of youth, it is our responsibility to show the right to choose in a manner that is as highly visible and tangible in its own essence. Why do people do things in general? The answer is elementary, because they want something. Why do people vote? The basic answer is because they want their voice to count. Youth are easily distracted by getting what they want, they are also passionately devoted to their beliefs. The key to unlocking the door to the voices of the future is to listen to those voices and vividly show them how valuable their voices count today. Generation X, as we are referred to, is a different breed of American. We are open to more than previous generations and we need leaders to stand amongst the wolves in order that we may back them. We are a group which believes that the rights this government was founded on are to be enjoyed by all peoples. We agree to disagree to protect our own freedoms. My world will not support bigotry in any form or tolerate favoritism. For example asked to back a candidate who wants to give the privilege of religious practice in the public forum to only the Christian elite cannot be accepted, as at its base it is prejudiced.
Unfortunately this type of thinking has lead to the thought: "why choose between the lesser of two evils rather than not supporting either evil at all?" Just as this disbelief in the government has plummeted the participation of youth in their rights to vote, this theory, if not revised, will lead to the demise of America as a world power. The future leaders of America need to be able to band together under the common security that the Bill Of Rights was destined to become for one nation. Else I see the land of the free and the home of the brave will be a vast land of scrimmaging peoples whom merely struggle amongst themselves to survive rather than live and prosper together as one nation.
Why fix it if it ain't broken? Old wives tales are tried and true as may be seen once again in this current situation. The electoral system itself is amazing in its accuracy and tampering with the system may create more problems than it could possibly fix. Internet voting although convenient has far too many holes that could allow in fraud. Direct voting, as proven in Russia, once again can easily lead to fraud. Creating a national holiday for voting, won't help increase the youth vote because most of the youth works all holidays just to make enough money to survive. All these single ideas at creating better electoral participation are just scurrying around the issues that will inevitably continue to arise. The importance of the right to vote needs to be a significantly vibrant focus during youth. It only needs to be shown in its functionality to those seventeen year olds how powerful their individual voice truly can be if they use it with the system, as opposed to against the system. All seniors in high school need a stronger more immediate media-type showing of the government system. Ideally all Seniors should have a trip to the nations capitol. Unfortunately, as this is an unfathomable expense for our school system to consider, the next best thing is to use our technology to bring the capitol and its many facets to all of America through live teleconferences and Internet conventions. Put a fire in our youth for the passion of having their say heard, and they will have much more to participate in saying.
Lastly, make it only slightly more convenient with a simple adjustment, allow each voter a choice of multiple voting locations according to their work, school or home that they could reserve ahead of time. Default location would still be assigned as it is currently. Votes would still be counted in their registered precinct as it is currently. However, this alone will immediately show rapid increase in participation by those who simply can not make it back home in the middle of their work or school day to vote as they would like.
In a nice and neat little bow, the electoral system as it stands is not to blame for the lack of participation by the youth in their government. If fingers must be pointed, the lack of belief in their government due to what is seen as backwards progress or ideal favoritism would be first to receive blame on the list.
Essay themes: Election Day registration, education
Political participation of young people is plummeting. Obviously, there needs to be some changes made in our electoral system. There are many ways to change the system. The only problem is figuring out which ways will work the best and how to implement them. I believe that the following suggestions would be the most effective ways to increase political participation among young Americans.
Most importantly, young people must have leaders that they can look up to. Some of our nation's leaders today lead such scandalous lives that they are not people we can consider good role models. These are people who should be ideal citizens, not the people who are in the news everyday for notorious activities. It is embarrassing to think that we live in a country where our most prominent figure, the President, is known better for his sexual life than for all that he has done to improve our economy. If younger generations had good examples of leaders to look up to, then they would take an interest in politics because they would see people striving to better the situation for others and not only thinking of their own pleasures. Secondly, the ballot measures need to be less confusing. Many of them are worded so that if you want the law to pass, you must vote no. With such difficult wording, it is hard to know if you are really voting the way you mean to. Since people are unable to understand the measures as fully as they should, they may shy away from them and not vote at all. Then, the next year, they remember this and, once again, don't vote. In some elections there must be fifty percent voter turn-out in order for the election to be valid. A registered voter who doesn't vote is considered to be voting no and it becomes virtually impossible to pass any measures if the majority of people do not vote. For people to vote, they need to be informed and know how our electoral system works.
One way for people to learn about the political system is to take an American Society class. All high school students should be required to take this class. At my high school this is a required senior year class. I think that by having this class in the senior year, people will remember what they learned and apply it when they vote. If this class was taken during another year, such as the sophomore year, by the time the students turned eighteen and could vote, they would have forgotten all that they had learned. Before taking this class, I basically knew nothing about how our government works. Now, I feel that I am informed and will be able to better understand what is going on when the time for me to vote comes around.
Election day voter registration is also a good ides. Too often, people get caught up in their lives and either put off or forget things that they need to get done. It is true that having voters register the same day as the election would increase the time they must set aside to vote and place more demands on those who are in charge at voting sites, but it would also allow those who forgot to register on time the chance to vote. Although young voters should be mature enough to remember to register on time, this is a busy time in their lives because many of them are graduating and starting a life on their own. Due to this, there are always going to be people who procrastinate and don't register. Election day registration will give them a break while still requiring them to make an effort by getting to the election site. Even though I do believe in a little leniency, I don't agree with on-line voting because it would be too easy. If people want to vote and they feel that certain issues are important to them, they need to take initiative. With on-line voting, people wouldn't have to take that extra step, and therefore may only vote because they can, not because they have strong feelings one way or another about a measure.
In Oregon, some of our elections allow mail-in voting. I feel these mail-in elections are as easy as it should be. Another way to change our electoral system would be to require all candidates running for office to have public debates. I would like to see this change because then I could watch the candidates responding to the same questions and could compare their views to my own. People like to be able to easily contrast views on the issues that are important to them and this is an easy way for potential voters to remain informed and also see where each candidate stands. Young people would especially agree with this because it requires them to do no reading or research on each candidate. All they have to do is turn on the television or radio and listen. Although there are many great ways in which our country could change it's electoral system so that young people would participate more, there is no way to make sure that everyone will vote. I believe that the changes mentioned could be made with minimum hassle and would increase the percentage of voters in younger generations.
Essay themes: Influence of money and Electoral College
Youth participation in government is on the decline. Young Americans seem to think that there is no reason for them to participate. This is a tragic consequence of various facets of today's society. On one hand the quality of life and the freedom that is present in America is responsible for this lack of a pressing need to have a say in what goes on in this country's government. Another reason for this downturn is that the economy is at the highest point that it has ever been before which does not inspire teenagers to take an active role in improving the situation that they are in. Teens are losing interest in seeking involvement since there seems to be no reason to.
When a majority of the American people pass a law for any given purpose, and law makers then twist, bend, and transmogrify it out of all recognition, if they do not simply declare it unconstitutional, then there seems to be little point in voicing your opinion when the elected officials have the final say on whether or not a proposal is going to become law. The highest elected official in the land, our very own president, is not elected directly by the people but is hand-selected by rich party leaders. They pick those that they think will appeal the most and then choose among them the one that they want to represent the party when the Electoral College meets to elect the president.
When the politicians and leaders of this country are chosen by the people who can hire the best lobbyists or dig up the most dirt on another person, then there seems to be no reason why someone would want to subject themselves to this when there seems to be no need to in the first place. The only answer to this would be to remove the party system so that the candidates who want to run can stand a chance without affiliating with the rich and powerful moguls of the country.
These are the reasons that are mainly responsible for the downturn in youth political participation. The causes, while easy to spot have much more complex solutions. The place where the changes have to start when reversing this travesty is the home. In this age of the degradation of the American family it is time for the parents to stop depending on Beavis and Butthead and the South Park kids to raise their children and for them to take some responsibility for the morals and patriotism that is expressed by today's youth. It is the parent's job, and their duty to instill a pressing need in their children that they need to be involved with the political system. If the youth of this country do not become involved then there is not much of a chance that democracy will last to see the next century.
Involvement of all of the people is necessary for the continuation of this great country. Governmental change will also help change the way that youth can get involved with the government. When dealing with a government that is known for political games, corrupt politicians, and every other moniker that depicts a loss of morals in America, it is no wonder that image conscious youths do not want a part of the system. When all the choices for an office are those of corrupt aged politicians that do not understand what the common voter wants, then there seems to be no point in electing them.
Politicians must set an example for the rest of the country. If the leaders of the nation cannot keep their emotions in check, then how are the common people of the country supposed to function in a civilized fashion? Once politicians start to demonstrate upright character and appropriate morals, then more people would be interested in assuming the title of leader. When the term is drenched in hate and disgust, it should hold no surprise that people do not want to garner such a despicable image.
The last cause of the drop in youth participation in the government is not necessarily a bad thing. The current state of the economy seems to have a lot to do with the amount that people want to improve their situation as a whole. In this country, being in a position of leadership is the fastest way to bring about changes in the society. When times are good, everyone is working, and there is no war going on at the time there seems to be very little reason to work for changes. The attitude seems to be "Don't fix what isn't broken." This attitude will only change when the quality of life and the standard of living begin to substantially subside.
Even though these are qualities in the society that are sought after, they are not what makes up freedom. When the quality drops, then the youth of America will take notice and take action. Youth involvement in the political arena needs improving. The youth of this great nation need to remember how precious the rights that they take for granted really are. Even though these rights are taken for granted, they need to be used. Americans have died in the past to secure the freedom of the generations to come. As long as the youth of this country ignore the responsibility that they have to be politically involved there is a chance that the entire democratic system could suffer as a consequence. Changes in the system need to be made immediately. The fate of America's youth and the entire democratic system is at stake due to the dislike of the politics on the part of the youth.
Essay themes: Lowered voting age, education
In society today, the debates continue over the future of our nation. Non-traditional candidates are more frequently finding themselves in public office, and the voters are left to question what is to come of our democracy. Unfortunately, the younger generations are not making use of the voice given to them by our society. It has been blamed on immaturity, poor leadership, and numerous other causes that seem to be out of our hands. However, there are ways to combat this issue. The way to solve the problem of voter apathy and poor political participation among young voters is all in the timing. Bestowing the vote upon citizens on their eighteenth birthday is not working. If the voting age were lowered to age sixteen, we could use the school system to first, combat the problem of uninformed voters, second, provide the basic motivation necessary to compel people to vote, and finally, be able to produce generations of voters who are more socially responsible and civically active.
One of the root problems among the voting community is the fact that they are generally uninformed. The only exposure that many people get to any candidates or upcoming issues is what they see on the evening news. There are many other opportunities to learn about these things, but people don't use them. This is not only a problem among the youth, but everyone else as well. We could more efficiently use high school government classes if the voting age were sixteen. Students sit in these classes and ask the age-old question, "What difference does this make to me?" An argument can be made that it does effect them, but from their perspective, as dependents of their parents, it does not effect them directly. This immediately sends their attention somewhere else. If they do learn anything in their classes, it will only be of use if it is still there in two years. If they had the opportunity to vote, they would realize that they can actually play a role in what they are learning, and curriculum could revolve around that. Teachers would be available to assist students in the first step-registering to vote. If students are going to be visiting the polls, they will be more interested in the curriculum, and potentially become interested in pursuing these interests further.
The opportunity to vote would not be the only reason for sixteen year olds to feel involved in the political process. Sixteen is the common age when students begin working. Though they may not see anything wrong with it, from their perspective, they are in a situation of "taxation without representation." Many students are unhappily surprised to see taxes removed from their paychecks, yet must shrug it off as a fact of life. If they were legal voters, it would mean something to them when they learn in their classes that they have a voice in the decision of where their money goes. It is this direct tie to the political process that would both enhance the educational system, and begin setting students in a pattern of learning about the issues because it does effect them.
When these voters feel connected, and are provided with the opportunity to learn how and why to be informed, they will begin productive habits that will last far beyond age sixteen and even age eighteen. A sense of involvement and importance leads to a feeling of responsibility. Once this occurs, these voters move past the point of simply visiting a voting booth and punching a card. Students will begin to see that they can have an impact, and they will have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to take the next step to become proactive rather than reactive. This is what our society needs. It takes outside motivation for people to get involved but it is coming from the wrong place. There are countless stories of how people are inspired to become politically active after something negative happens to them and they decide to do something about it. It is a good thing that people can turn the negative into a positive and are willing to become active, but we cannot just sit by and wait for things like that to happen. There is something inherently wrong about a society that claims to value social and political involvement, yet does not reflect that in the way that it educates its citizens.
Humans are creatures of habit, and do not generally like change. We have the opportunity to make voting a non-traumatic experience when students are in an atmosphere where walking away is not an option. Students are required to go to school because society believes that there are certain things that are crucial to becoming a productive member of society. We should take every opportunity to see that the importance of voting responsibly is instilled in our youth. Currently, students are given American History and current events classes that are not successful in motivating them years later. It is important to learn from the past, but we also need to learn from the not-so-distant past. The status quo is not working, so it is time to fix it. Everyday we see how our nation's youth deserves more credit, and how assigning responsibility creates more conscientious citizens. The difference between a sixteen year old and an eighteen year old voter is not maturity or education level; it is timing.
JEREMIAH J. JACKSON
Essay theme: Help make understanding the issues and candidates simpler
This is a good question. I can only speak for myself, I am 20 years old and a registered voter, yet I have never voted! Why you might ask. The answer is simple: I don't understand the issues, and there is nobody that I would care to take an opinion from. After all that is their opinion not mine.
A lot of the measures and issues are explained in difficult and hard to understand terms. I received a mail-in ballot and tried to see who would be the best candidates for different public offices. After reading the ballot and explanations of offices I stood totally confused. Maybe I am alone in this total confusion when it comes to politics. But I surely hope that that is not the case.
I feel that a lot of adults have knowledge of these issues enough to vote and to "wing-it" if they have to. But as a teenager it seems some of these things I had no idea about. Then all of a sudden I was handed a voter registration card and told to do my best. That the future rides on my shoulders and that I need to make the right decisions. And that we need to vote or the interest of the lower class income families will be compromised. It seems it the lower class income families that don't vote. The parents don't vote therefore the children don't vote and they end up suffering.
What I think you can do to help the decline in young American voters is to publish a book that explains the issues in simple terms not political ones. You could call it "Politics For Dummies". This will help those that are in my situation, wanting to vote but not sure where I stand. I have morals and beliefs, and would like them to be shown through my voting patterns. However with terms I am not familiar with and issues I don't understand I am afraid to vote, feeling that I would vote against my morals.
Another problem I have mentioned was that lower income families are not voting or teaching their kids to vote. I would be nice to have classes in Jr High and High School that address issues -- what they mean and what is the thought of a person supporting them or opposing them. For example: Abortion: On the supporting side, women's rights, ways to reduce poverty and all the other reasons that pro-abortionists preach. On the opposing side, the life that is lost, the harm done to women emotionally, and all the other reasons that pro-lifers give. (Because this is an essay about the decline in voting of American youth, I did not to put my own views in that example.)
Another solution might be to educate more parents in the lower income families. If you can get the parents to care, then you can get the kids to care.
In conclusion, the main help that you can do to get more young
people to vote is make them more aware. Simplify the wording
or publish a guide that is made so that people that are not
graduates from college can understand them. I am by no means
an idiot. I am a high school graduate and seeking to go to college,
but a lot of the literature I have seen put issues in political
terms. Not only that but they make reference to previous issues
that I have never heard about. If you would like to help me
to vote, help me to understand what I am voting for! Thank you
for your time and consideration of this essay and also the scholarships.