Checking the Right to Vote

A teenager’s 18th birthday is perhaps one of the most coveted of all, but in reality I felt no awakening sense of freedom at the chime of midnight on my 18th birthday. In fact, turning 18 was probably the most anticlimactic birthday of my life. My answer, along with that of all my friends, to the age-old question “Does it feel any different?” was no, not at all.

Perhaps the most cliché excitement of turning 18 is the newfound right to vote. But as I registered to vote and geared up for my first election in November, an election for Texas constitutional amendments, I was disheartened to learn that I was one among few of my 18-year-old peers who even knew the election was occurring. As exciting as this moment was for me, I couldn’t share this milestone with any of my friends. When I asked my friends why they weren’t voting, the most common response was “Eh, too lazy,” or “Texas has its own constitution?” Most hadn’t even registered when renewing their licenses after their birthdays.

When I looked around the voting booth, I was surprised because I was not only the youngest one there, but the youngest by about two decades. The same was true when I returned to the polls in March for the Texas primaries. In the 2012 presidential election, only 19 percent of voters were between the ages of 18-29.

As insignificant as Texas constitutional amendments and state primaries might seem, I consider it my duty to vote regardless of their effect on me. With the privilege of living in this country with the lifestyle I lead comes the responsibility of voting in an educated manner. I’ve only reaped the benefits of this country for the past 18 years; the least I can do is go to the polls twice a year and acknowledge that I care even the slightest about this government that provides so much for me.

Clad in my green and white plaid skirt, I dropped my ballot, with my sacred votes for the Texas constitutional amendments into the box and heard an elderly man behind me say, “That’s what I like to see, a young Hockadaisy exercising her right to vote.”

That’s what I would like to see, too.

– Anisha Anand