The election is a few days away! Have the adults in your life voted? Are the adults in your life planning to vote? If not, you might ask them if they've enjoyed the last four years, and if they're better off now than they were in 2016.
Either way, they need to vote. Voting is the right of every U.S. citizen over the age of 18, and our democracy cannot work if we don't vote. Our votes dictate the policies that shape our lives and our future: everything from school funding to Social Security.
If you're a kid like me, then you can't vote yet. This is a bummer, but it doesn't mean that you can't influence others. An average of only 55% of eligible people vote in U.S. presidential elections (as of 2016), and that's not nearly high enough to keep our republic healthy and moving forward. In fact, the U.S. places 26th in voter turnout among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. This means that 25 developed countries (including Canada and Mexico) have higher voter turnout rates than we do. We can do better!
It's time for us to get adults out to vote. We're already good at convincing them — how many of us have smartphones or spend way too much time playing video games? The truth is, we have a lot of influence over our elders. They'll listen to us, in part because deep down they know what's right. Women only got the right to vote in the U.S. in 1920, and they had to sacrifice a lot for that. African Americans have struggled (for the right) to vote for over a century, and we can't just dismiss their sacrifices. The next time adults complain about the hassle of filling out a ballot and turning it in, remind them of life in the South before the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
This year, there are many ways to vote in California. You can mail in a ballot, drop a ballot off at a designated drop box, go to your county elections office and fill out your ballot and submit it early, and you can vote in person Oct. 31 through Nov. 3. Voting early is the best bet. Say what you want about California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, but he definitely makes it easy to vote. With all these ways to cast a ballot, it's easier than ever to make our voices heard. We just need to make sure that the adults around us carry out their minimal civic duties.
In the end, even though we kids can't vote, we can still do our part. This means getting our parents and other adults out there to vote. If they're worried about COVID-19 (which makes sense), then they can mail in their ballot or drop it off at a designated drop box. Easy! So let's beat Canada and Mexico this time, and really get out the vote. Our future really does depend on it.
Arhaan Gupta-Rastogi is an eighth grade student at Hillview Middle School in Menlo Park.