This year, Florida’s midterm elections marked the first time that I cast my vote and took my opinions to the polls.
The 2008 presidential election was the first election I invested myself in. I vividly remember asking my mother questions about the candidates, their views, and why she decided to vote for her preferred politician. As an extremely curious eight-year-old, I asked how long it was until I was able to vote just like her. It was disappointing when it dawned on me that I still had another ten years to go before I could perform my civic duty, but ever since then, politics has been something that calls my attention every time.
The 2016 presidential election statistics for voter turnout have ranked the US at 26 out of 32 highly developed democratic countries that are part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Clearly, this shows that in our country, eligible voters don’t make voting as much of a priority as other nations do.
While I don’t agree with the radical suggestion that some have made to make voting an obligation for those that are registered, I do feel that it is important to make your political voice heard. In this country, we have the privilege of having the ability to vote for the people that represent us in the federal and state positions of power. Recognizing how valuable that opportunity is to our society is what motivated me to vote this year.
Because Florida is my home state, these midterm elections were even more important to me. Though not as publicized and politicized as the “bigger” elections, I feel as though midterm elections are just as crucial to the progress that each state can make.
In Florida, we have the chance to vote for a new US senator, governor and multiple representatives throughout the state. This means that not only are we deciding on who will contribute to lawmaking and policymaking for the next few years in our federal government, but also on numerous state officials. For example, our new governor will be responsible for state budgeting for education, which as college students, is something that we should all consider to be of the highest concern.
I know for sure that I want my vote for each candidate to be representative of the changes that I believe should be made for my generation and those to come. Throughout our country’s history, as new politicians replace the incumbents, and old politicians continue their reign, people should make their opinions be heard loud and clear on their disapproval of the way we function as a state. The most striking thing, though, is that those same opinions aren’t reflected in the polls. If we don’t do our research on candidates, register to vote, and cast our ballots, we will continue to complain on Facebook and Twitter about our discontent without any real change.
As Michelle Obama said in her speech to University of Miami students (myself included) and other Florida residents at the When We All Vote rally, “Here’s the truth, voting is the only way to ensure that your concerns matter, period.”
Britny Sanchez is a junior majoring in political science.