Essays from Nevada

College student
Born: 1980

Essay themes: Abolishing age limits for voting, increasing high schools' role, increase the participation of African-Americans and other minorities

The year is 2054, more than half a century has passed since the clock struck midnight and ushered in the new millennium. Not only has technology changed exponentially, but people in America have changed as well. There are no crooked politicians, the President remains monogamous to the First Lady, health care is sufficient, education is opening doors of opportunity left and right, welfare is obsolete, social security is supporting people adequately, more and more people have good jobs, and the American public is generally content with the way government is being handled. The benevolence of 2054 didn't happen by chance, conditioning or propaganda, it happened because in teenagers in the year 2000 began to take an active role in politics. Now is this idyllic world possible today? Of course it is, but first many things that hinder America's youth from voting must be changed. In order to combat the deterioration of voting by young people, everyone must consent to revolutionize.

The voting age is a complex, controversial and debatable topic that has been disputed for many years. Advocates of childhood suffrage say that eliminating the voting age will increase voter turnout in adults ad has done so in areas that allow it. Childhood suffrage advocate John Holt does not "wish to lower the voting age incrementally but seeks the right to vote for people of any age." According to Holt all people " should have the right to vote when their interest, knowledge and involvement in politics are sufficiently developed enough to so do." By abolishing age requirements " young people could develop skills and potentials at a much earlier age across a variety of activities." Holt makes a valid point, however, I am not in favor of eliminating the voting age completely. This would be a superficial move and children could become victim to propaganda and coaxing by parents and other adults. While I don't suggest that the age-qualification is terminated, I do suggest that we take measures to include and inform children about the voting process. Programs like Kids Voting, a non-profit organization that tackles voter apathy by letting children vote, should be made available in all communities. Kids Voting helps to establish life-long voting habits in children by letting them vote. In 1996 only 50% of eligible voters cast their ballot in the Presidential election, however, in 1998 the adult turnout increased an average of 5-10% on Kids Voting areas. The Kids Voting program provides students with first-hand experience in the voting process. Why not make this curriculum a mandatory part of all elementary school systems? The overarching affects of Kids Voting helps children develop voting habits early, causes more adults to vote on election day, and encourages families to make voting a family affair.

High schools also need to take a more active role in encouraging students to vote. I feel that making voting required in every high school government class would prove very affective. Along with the proper curriculum this would provide the opportunity for teachers to prepare voting-age students for their first elections and explain the voting process and its benefits. In addition, teachers should also require that each student provide an essay stating all the qualities they look for in a candidate and all the things they'd like to see accomplished while that person is in office. This will make students actually think about the decisions they will make in the voting booth. Schools also need to pursue ways to make voting more readily available and easily accessible; providing polls, registration forms, and online voting on campuses, libraries and recreation centers for easy access. Candidates should also feel obligated to hold forums at schools and entertain questions from the students.

Blacks and minorities make up a sizable portion of the American population and yet their percentage is disproportional to their number. I am an African-American female and am the only registered voter out of all my peers. Its disenchanting to know that in a neighborhood with one teen in each house there is no interest whatsoever. In 1996 only 30% of all eligible blacks voted in the primaries. Increased voting by minorities would give us a voice in government. We could change the things we don't like and improve upon the things we do. Our vote is extremely important because no one can decide what's best for us better than we can.

Unfortunately, "the voting rights of African-American men have become yet another casualty in the nation's long and misguided war on drugs." Studies have shown that out of 10.4 million eligible black males 1.4 have been disenfranchised due to felony convictions. Laws mandating the revocation of voting rights were established the same time that literacy tests and poll taxes were being used to prevent blacks from voting. ACLU Legislative Counsel Mark Kappelhoff pointed out that "laws that target voting, one of the most fundamental features of our participatory democracy undercut everything for which this country stands. Its time Congress mandates this law to allow the punishment to fit the crime. The implications of this law are totally unfair to those people who turn their lives around for the better.

Voting is a luxury afforded to all Americans, and yet a large percentage of the population chooses not to exercise this right. In order to change the apathy many feel towards voting we must instill good voting habits early on in life and hope that our children will take an active role in determining the future of America. It is entirely possible for this wonderful democracy of ours to function properly and serve the needs of the people. But in order for this to happen we must respect and treasure our freedom to govern ourselves.