by Gayle Kent, NCJW Communications Intern, Summer 2012
This coming election will be the first presidential election in which I can vote — in 2008 I was still 17. I registered to vote when I turned 18 and voted in the 2010 election, but I have never been so excited for an election as I am this year! Come November 6, I’m planning to go into the voting booth prior to my Science Fiction and Religion course. Yet, as a young person, I know that on election day far too many of my peers will not even bother to make the effort.
On the one hand, in my little “liberal arts bubble,” I can look around and safely say that most of my college friends will be voting. Generally, it’s a pretty active campus. I also go to school in a swing state, so there is no opportunity for the “my vote won’t matter anyway” apathy. But now that I’m home for the summer, I realize I don’t know if the friends I’ve known since childhood will be voting. In fact, we never discuss it. But we should.
I’ve always been taught to not talk politics with people. That may be true, yet voting is non-partisan. It’s about exercising your right to have a say in government. That’s why I am so proud of National Council of Jewish Women’s Promote the Vote, Protect the Vote campaign, through which NCJW works to make sure that everyone who is eligible to vote can legally do so.
Most recently, NCJW has been working to stop the increase in voter identification (ID) laws, which would require a voter to present a government issued photo ID to cast a ballot, a form of identification which costs money to obtain. Many young adults don’t have a need for a government-issued ID in their day-to-day lives — a lot of us use our school IDs primarily on campus. I have several friends who don’t drive, and I have even more friends who have never traveled out of the country so they have never needed a passport. Moreover, government issued IDs are too expensive for the average college student. These laws discriminate against youth, which is why I’ll continue to speak out against these harmful laws.
I’m also going to speak to my childhood friends about registering and pledging to vote, and I hope others will join me! You can personally reach out to a young person and encourage them to vote. Remind them that their vote actually does count and they can influence the government. Most young adults just want their opinions valued. If you know a young adult who is active, ask them to talk to their friends about voting. Before November, I want to know that as many of my friends that can vote, will vote, no matter whom they’re voting for. Because even though we’re young, we have a right to be heard, a right that we must not ignore or take for granted on November 6.
Help a young adult register by clicking on the “Register to Vote: Rock the Vote” logo on the NCJW’s Promote the Vote, Protect the Vote page, www.ncjw.org/vote.