Staff Editorial: My vote doesn’t count? Yes, it does

Turning 18 marks a milestone in the life of a teenager. For the first time ever, you can get a tattoo without parental consent, buy a lottery ticket, or vote. It’s a right that many fought for, yet few use. In fact, youth voters aged 18-24 have consistently shown the lowest voter turnout in elections since 1972. How come so many young people have no issue making their opinions heard on social media, yet fail to exercise their constitutional right to fill out a ballot? The answer lies largely in access to voting education.

Although you can’t vote until you are legally an adult, there are several steps that can be taken before then to prepare high school students. For example, many don’t know that in Washington state, you can pre-register to vote at age 16 by filling out a simple form. That way, when your 18th birthday rolls around, you’re all set to vote and won’t have to deal with any paperwork. Many DMVs provide the option to pre-register when one fills out the paperwork to get their driver’s license. Even people who don’t have their driver’s license can pre-register online or stop by the Shorewood library, which keeps forms on hand. 

Another issue that young voters face is that they likely move away for college following their 18th birthday, often to a different state, where voting protocols may differ. Many high school students are unsure if they can vote in a different state while retaining residency in their initial state, causing them to just not vote. To clear this up, college students who have permanent residency in another state can vote in whichever state they prefer; they just need to report their mailing address accordingly. Voting in both states, however, would result in voter fraud.

One club that broadens youth voter engagement is My School Votes, a division of Michelle Obama’s organization, When We All Vote. This club opened a chapter at Shorewood in 2020 and has since registered and pre-registered dozens of students to vote. In addition, the club encourages voters to be adequately informed about the decisions they make. Taking a little bit of time to research candidates before just choosing the one that aligns with your party can make a major difference, especially in local elections.

No matter how you choose to vote, be it liberal or conservative, the bottom line is this: fill out that ballot. It takes only a moment of your time, but it has long lasting effects on yourself and your community.


he members of the 2022-2023 Tempest Editorial Board are Phia Calandrillo, Minseo Kim, Audrey Gray, Ursula Stickelmaier, Nathan Serwold, Kendra Harris, and Ariel Serna