The dictionary defines disenfranchise as “to deprive of a legal right, or of some privilege or immunity, especially, to deprive of the right to vote” (Merriam Webster).
For years, women and people of color were deprived of the right to vote in these United States. In fact, women were not “given” the right to vote until 1920; and Blacks continued to be disenfranchised until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Young people between ages 18 and 21 were disenfranchised until 1971. That is when the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18. That means, until 1971, if you were 18, 19, or 20, you could not vote; now, as soon as you turn 18 you can.
Voting is a right that anyone 18 or over in the United States has. We must exercise that right. Voting is also a responsibility and a significant part of becoming an adult. Unfortunately, a majority of young people do not vote. By not voting they are giving up a right that so many people fought and died for. Essentially, they are disenfranchising themselves. That has to change, and it begins with you! It is imperative that our youth register to vote when they are 17 and vote when they are 18.
In 22 countries around the world, voting is mandatory (CIA World Factbook), with various consequences ranging from fines to whatever else they can do to you. In other countries some people are still not allowed to vote. That’s the world in which we live, where some of us take our rights and privileges for granted.
Over the course of the next few weeks, Monroe County Community College will be working with several non-partisan groups, such as the NAACP, to register people to vote on campus and elsewhere. It is a simple process, and all parents, teachers, and others must encourage our young people to register to vote. The deadline to register for the November 2018 election is October 9th.
Here are a few reasons why you should register to vote and vote
- By not voting, you are shirking a civic duty and responsibility;
- You should be the one to shape your future – if you want to change the future, then do not let others control it;
- It is a right you have, do not let anyone deprive you of that right;
- If you don’t vote, you have no business complaining, so keep your bellyaching to yourself;
- It is part of the educational experience as you learn and engage in evaluating different positions and learn about current events and key policy initiatives.
It is essential that young people take advantage of their right to vote, shaping their own future, and setting a precedent for future generations. Voting is a right and a civic responsibility, please don’t give that up.