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The La Salle Falconer

The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

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Your Voice Matters: The Importance of Voting

Olivia Hungerford
With the 2024 presidential election this fall, the importance of voting is an important thing to recognize, which comes with having a basis on how the system works and why young voters should get into the habit.

With many juniors and seniors being of voting age in this upcoming election, it can be a scary thought to vote for the first time. Regardless of how you are politically aligned, it’s important to vote, especially if this upcoming election — which falls on Nov. 5, 2024 — is the first year you’re eligible to participate.

So why is it so important to vote? The truth of the matter is that there are many reasons why it is vitally important — and necessary — with many more that this article may not address. 

Millions of Americans who are eligible voters don’t vote every year. Shockingly, in the last three national elections, only two-thirds of the country’s qualified voting population actually voted — the highest turnout since 1900.

A reason that influences millions of people to not vote is the thought that it is merely a single vote in a sea of tens of millions of other votes, so why would their vote matter? 

In reality, your vote matters more than ever with 48 states using a “winner takes all” approach for the electoral college system, including Oregon. This method of voting will allow your vote to matter more towards the final state decision which will go towards the final outcome of the presidential election. The only two states that don’t use this method are Nebraska and Maine, which, instead of being counted towards congressional districts, their votes go directly to the final state vote for their electoral colleges. A common misconception is that the state vote is what goes towards the election, but in reality it’s still only the electoral college vote that goes towards the final presidential election. 

The electoral college is determined by the amount of congressional districts as well as an additional two for the senators. In total, Oregon has six for the districts and an additional two for the senators, adding up to a total of eight out of the total 538 electoral votes that make up each national election.

Although many can agree voting is an important part of a democracy, the truth of the matter is that while many of those who believe it’s important to vote, only about 79% of people who say that actually cast their vote, almost diminishing what they previously stated.

While there is a good split in numbers between students that both do and do not have jobs, it’s important to acknowledge that once they do begin working, they will have to begin the process of taxes — another reason why voting is incredibly important. It gives you an input on who is going to be making decisions regarding how that taxpayer money will be used. 

Although it can be daunting to vote because there might not be a presidential candidate that lines up with your political views, it’s still vital to cast your opinion through the ballot. One way to look at voting is as a way to show your ideas and wishes for the country by selecting a candidate that best represents a path you have in mind on the ballot. The reality is that no matter what, somebody will be elected and hold office for the next four years, and what you can do is to help ensure that someone is elected who won’t steer far from that same path you have in mind.

As the youngest generation eligible to vote, it’s also our job to help speak up for what will help bring equality around the world in the long run. A good place we can start is voting for what we believe is for the greater good of the country and allow ourselves to have a voice we might not have previously had. Although older generations make up a large percentage of the voting population, it will be up to us to lead the world they leave behind. 

If we don’t become politically active now, then when the day comes for us to take charge, what kind of burden will we have to deal with and how will we take care of it? If we want to see change happen before our eyes, this is a perfect way to do it. 

One of the major factors that discourages voting is just how inconvenient it is. In Oregon, however, the voting process is made easier with mail-in ballots. This gives Oregon voters a chance to vote in the comfort of their own homes while on a schedule that works best for them within the certain time period given. This has caused Oregon and many other states that allow mail-in ballots to gain a higher percentage of voters which has helped increase the overall voting turnout in many elections.

Another issue that occurs specifically with younger voters is the fact they don’t know how the voting process works. Although voting is often discussed on the news and is essential to a democracy, the actual process isn’t as commonly talked about when you’re younger. Luckily, you can register to vote as early as the age of 16 in the state of Oregon. By registering early, you can be prepared and make an informed decision before the deadline to register 21 days before the election takes place.

Once you’re registered to vote, as long as you are 18 years old or older — whether that be you turned 18 years old many months or only a day before election day — you are qualified to vote. In the state of Oregon, you can vote either by going in person or registering online to vote by mail. 

Voting by mail can mean one of two things. The first option is  that you get your ballot mailed and you send it back through the mail. The second option is to get your ballot mailed and you drop it off at an official ballot drop-off site. But to either vote in person or by mail, you must register to vote. 

Once you cast your ballot, it’s time to wait. 

The state will either be counted as Democrat, Republican or any independent candidate of which will be decided based on the overall popular vote towards the electoral colleges.

Although chances of this happening are incredibly low, with more Americans leaning towards getting rid of the electoral college system, it’s important to voice your opinion, whether or not the electoral college stays or leaves. 

With the country more divided than ever, your vote matters, and you must remember that it could be your vote that changes the outcome of the election.

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