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By: Julia Recine

What if I told you that one vote can make a difference?

In 1994, the Wyoming House of Representatives election saw Republican Randall Luthi and Independent Larry Call each finish with 1,941 votes. A recount soon followed, showing the same results. What ended up settling this tied election was the drawing of a ping-pong ball out of a cowboy hat. Just think, if one more person had voted, it could have made a world of difference.

Since I was a little girl, I can remember my mother instilling in me a passion for voting and being a part of something bigger: a democracy. My mother has voted in every single election since she was 18-years-old, and when I was old enough to understand, I remember her taking me into the voting booth with her on Election Day. From the time I was playing on the playground to now, politics, voting, and the importance of making your opinion count, has been a central component of my life.

Fast-forward to today. Americans are in one of the most turbulent elections in our nation’s history. We have the two most unfavorable candidates representing each party. It seems that everyone cannot decide whether or not they are actually going to vote. But voting is essential to keeping democracy alive, even if you cast a protest ballot.

Many millennials feel heir vote truly does not matter, as demonstrated by low voter turnout amongst youths. According to a study conducted by CIRCLE, millennials are the second largest voter group after senior citizens, making up 21 percent of the voting population. Only 19.9 percent of 18-29 year-olds cast their ballot in 2014 midterm elections, the lowest young voter turn out ever recorded in a federal election. We have the power to change the course of the election. It is just a matter of motivating people to commute to the polling places.

What about the Electoral College, you may ask? In 2012, the election swing states were Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania. According to CIRCLE, if young voters had voted for Romney instead of Obama, or stayed home entirely, Romney would have won those states. In Ohio, 62 percent of the vote came from those aged 18-29. 66 percent in Florida, 61 percent in Virginia. and 63 percent in Pennsylvania, respectively, all accounted for the younger vote.

So why is youth voting so important to continuing a democratic society? Simple, earning the right to vote creates a habitual, new culture of voting. Becoming prone to voting is far from a bad thing, and in a way, it forces someone to become educated on the political issues, both locally and federally.

Voting grants you the opportunity to enlighten older voters on what the youth demand of their government. If you avoid voting all together, you lose your right to complain. If you do not vote, why is your opinion even coming into question? If you did not properly voice it, then it is irrelevant.

Think of the authority you possess when walking into that voting booth, selecting a candidate or writing someone in—you are essentially becoming a part of history. Especially in this election,  history will be made.

Voting has always been one of the more prevalent social issues faced in this country. For women, it was the suffrage movement in the 1920s. For African Americans, it was the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. So why would you brush something off that people fought so hard to gain the right for? Think about countries all over the world that do not even have the right to vote. Countries like Syria and North Korea are nations whose citizens are not given a voice when it comes to political matters. They are simply told what is being decided upon. Here in America, we do not have to like what is decided, but can at least express our disdain for a particular candidate or a policy by voting.

Your voice, your opinion, matters. You have the ability to change the government, society, and determine who leads the free world, by simply making your way to a polling place. Taking a half hour out of your day on Election Day can make a world of difference.

Do not feel discouraged by the Electoral College. We can be the generation that makes a difference. We can make America into the nation we envision it can be, but only if you exercise your constitutional right to vote. So get out, and let your voice heard.