Voting essential for young people

There’s a pervasive ambivalence that creeps around many conversations about civic engagement. Namely, that it just doesn’t matter. No matter what letters are sent, or which petitions are signed, many leaders will simply vote along their own values (and wallets) instead of the values of their constituents. 

But that’s not an excuse to slip into apathy when it comes to civic engagement. In fact, it is a rallying call to the most important form of civic engagement, the form that, instead of changing peoples’ minds, changes the people in power. 

Voting in local and national elections is the most important way to make sure your values are recognized at the large level. In the representative democracy of Omaha, Nebraska and the United States as a whole, the job of elected officials is to represent the people. It is essential that young people’s opinions are represented as well. The way to ensure this is by removing barriers to voting. For many young people, these barriers include transportation to a polling place, uncertainty about restrictions, and a lack of knowledge about the candidates. 

For leadership to truly represent the people, these restrictions must be removed, and voting must be made as accessible as possible. 

Recently, I sat in the courtyard for a lunch period encouraging voter registration. Over my 43 minutes, I explained how primary elections worked, why voting matters and how to find your polling place to students not yet eligible to register to vote. I also registered one person to vote. I encourage all readers, if they will be eighteen before November 8, 2022, and are U.S. citizens, to register to vote at 

Voting matters because, no matter how much money someone pours into a campaign, the people are the ultimate deciders of their leadership. And while of course our duty to change goes beyond voting and includes community support and engagement, electing people who share common values quickens the process of change in an official context. 

I urge you to not become ambivalent about the upcoming primary and general elections out of the belief that they just don’t matter. If young people remain largely underrepresented in voter counts and the status quo continues, then our representatives will never truly represent us.