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The Importance of Voting

In 1788, land owning white men cast their ballots in America’s first presidential election. In the 1828 presidential election, the right to vote was extended to all white men. Voting was far from equitable, but America was gaining ground. In 1870, after civil war and years of fighting, the 15th amendment was put into law, giving Black Americans the right to vote. In 1920, the women’s suffrage movement hit its peak, and women finally gained the right to vote. However, it wasn’t until The Voting Rights Act of 1965, after years of fighting and work of voting rights activists like Ella Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer, that Black women were fully able to exercise their right to vote. The 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th amendments were written into law to eliminate voter disenfranchisement, finally guaranteeing all Americans the right to vote and upholding the values of activists like Baker and Hamer. The work of voting rights activists throughout American history have given all of us, including you, the fundamental right to vote. It is not something to be taken lightly or underestimated. Rather, it is a tool that you can use to influence important aspects of our country and of your own life.

by Poema S. and Ruby T., TeenWell Ambassadors

One of the strongest ways you can carry out your civic duty is by exercising your right to vote. With voter support, politicians are elected into office and can fulfill their goals of passing policy. Due to these circumstances, every single voter can make a difference. Because we American citizens have the right to vote policymakers into office, it makes the concept of voting one of the most important tools a society can have.

It is of the utmost importance that young people like us have an understanding over who our elected officials are going to be. When you think about the importance of voting, think about the kinds of policies you would like to see pushed into existence. That way, you can help inform yourself of who you need to be voting for. Here are some thing to think about when it comes to voting: 

  • Who will have your best interest at heart?
  • Who do you align with politically and morally?  
  • Who is going to make sure you get what you need in terms of your healthcare rights and opportunities? 
  • Who do you feel can make the most change? 

Young people have even more responsibility, as we are the ones voting in those who will lead our country into the future. As such, it is that much more important that we know who we are electing into office and that we exercise one of the most profound rights of an American citizen: voting.

Policy plays directly into the lives of our communities and can exist in all forms. It affects young people in all sorts of different ways, but in this case, we’re looking at the ways it affects healthcare. 

In theory, the goal of healthcare bills and provisions is to protect and promote the health and rights of citizens. Elected officials and policy makers create and pass policy to uphold these values. Their stances are often informed by professionals and other advanced members of the medical field (Bulger, Bobby, Fineberg 1995). 

For example, The Affordable Care Act, passed into law by President Obama in 2010, makes sure that young adults up to the age of 26 are protected underneath the insurance of their legal guardian. The majority of young people entering the workforce secure entry-level positions in their respective fields where they have the lowest rates of access to employer-based insurance. This rate remains 30% lower than older employees (Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services). 

In the instance of the Affordable Care Act, voting members of the populace voted a politician into office that they believed would pass healthcare policies they agreed with. As a unified whole, we young people can do the same, with the proper education and motivation to do so.

As mentioned above, it’s very important to educate yourself about voting. However, remember that politics is a very complicated thing and you don’t have to understand every part of it! To get you started, we’ve linked a few websites for some precursory research about voting and politics in America. For more in depth information, check out Legacy’s page about being an informed voter, which will also be linked below.