Voter turnout

A voter drops off a ballot in Astoria in 2018.

The ability to vote is the single greatest representation of democracy in existence today.

The power to choose and the capacity to participate in a process that so often seems out of reach for America’s masses are why I will always vote. A vote is a voice, and with a voice, one has the power to enact change. Every voice matters. No two voices are alike.

The importance of the right to vote simply cannot be understated, yet it is often cast aside, one single ballot seemingly rendered useless by millions of others just like it. But in truth, there are no others just like it.

My vote will not, cannot, be whittled down to a statistic. It is an encapsulation of everything I am as a person: the beliefs I hold, the laws I analyze, and, most crucially, the decisions I make. Every time I vote, I share a unique perspective, and I am joined by millions more at the state and federal levels, all of whom voice their own perspectives when they cast their ballots.

To vote is to take yourself and your convictions firmly into account. But that does not mean your vote cannot be influenced by the lives of others. The concept of voting carries with it an inherent responsibility, almost a duty, to be informed, but you must also consider the impact your vote could have on the people around you.

Whether those people are friends, relatives, or strangers, their circumstances should have a say in your vote, and vice versa.

When I vote, I will take a good long look at those around me, a collection of people from all walks of life who, in many cases, are more personally affected by issues such as poverty and immigration reform than I am. My vote is not only a reflection of myself. It is an echo of the disenfranchised people I see around me every day.

I have always been inspired to vote, perhaps in part because I am not able to do so just yet. But when that time comes, I will not take voting for granted. I will mark my ballot, empowered and emboldened, because I know for a certainty that my vote is helping bring about the change I, and others around me, want to see.

Democracy, true democracy, encompasses all of us, and therefore it must work for all of us. That is why I will always vote.

Tristan Trudell is a senior at Ilwaco High School. He won first place in an essay contest for high school students on voting sponsored by Indivisible North Coast Oregon and the American Association of University Women, Astoria branch.

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