California Forum

First-time voter sees chance to fulfill civic duty

Thomas Oide
Thomas Oide

I’ve never really been much of a politics person.

As a Davis High School student, I have a multitude of other interests that take precedence over politics: watching football, managing my four fantasy football teams, playing music and fighting the disease known as senioritis.

But when I turned 18 in October – making me an official adult – I had an epiphany. I knew that all of the propositions on Tuesday’s ballot applied directly to my future. Even though I’m a first-time voter, I knew my vote would count for something.

Voting is a privilege. All voters, especially first-time voters like me, should take at least some time to research every issue and candidate that will appear on the ballot.

Although my research hasn’t been incredibly extensive, I have still made it a point to educate myself on each proposition and candidate. My government teacher has the voting information packets in his classroom and during breaks, I was able to read the packet, cover to cover.

Recently, a representative from the Yolo County Elections Office came to my class to help fellow seniors and me register to vote. Most of the class was eligible to register because there’s a law in California that allows 17-year-olds to “pre-register.”

I took the forms she passed out and registered to vote at that moment. I felt that it was important to fulfill my civic duty.

Only seven of 28 classmates registered to vote. I found the statistic extremely disappointing. Here, we have an opportunity for our voices to be heard, yet some willingly refused the opportunity to do so.

The fact is that I, and all teenagers for that matter, have little control of our own lives. The government dictates that we have to go to school Monday through Friday. Our teachers decide what we do during school. Our parents dictate what we do after school.

We have an even smaller voice in the inner workings of our county, state and country. In reality, the responsibility of running the country belongs to the politicians in Washington, D.C.

Yet I have some control through the process of voting. Putting check marks on a ballot is a simple, yet powerful, way to see that my voice is making an impact on my community and state.

And my vote produces tangible results and evidence.

I can see if doctors are being drug tested. I can see if the infrastructure of water transportation improves. I can see what Congressman John Garamendi does in Washington, D.C. I can see the effects of a casino being built near the outskirts of Yosemite.

Seeing the impact is what makes voting meaningful to me. Voting gives value to everyone’s opinions and voices, regardless of ethnic or socioeconomic background, and that is what makes voting vitally important.

Thomas Oide is a senior at Davis High School.