Letter to the Editor: The Importance of Voting

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Congratulations H.S. Graduates and Rising Seniors!

We salute you for achieving — and being poised to achieve — an important life milestone.

We encourage you to prepare for another key milestone: Voting.

If you are 18 and an American citizen, you have the right — and privilege — to vote, but you must register first. Perhaps you have pre-registered? All New Yorkers ages 16 and 17 can pre-register. It takes two minutes. Then, on your 18 birthday, you’re good to go.

So how do you register? One easy way: go to our LWV website: vote411.org/new-york. It allows you to register or pre-register, to check on your registration, to find your polling place, and to learn about candidates. Or you can contact your local League (see below).

If you register before August 20, you can vote in your town and village elections on September 15. Local elections choose local representatives who decide everything from garbage pickup to local policing policies, from protecting LI’s aquifer to encouraging renewable energy. And every single vote counts. In recent years, many local elections have been decided by under 20 votes…some by only one vote.

So registering is easy.  And your one vote matters. And organizing friends and community members can amplify the value of your vote, even nationally.

But how do you learn enough about candidates to feel informed? Candidates for President and the US Congress will spend millions promoting themselves, providing websites with their policy positions, holding town halls and getting media interviews.

It can take a bit more effort to learn about candidates for state, county, and local races, so our League offers help. We create voter guides posted on Vote411 and hold candidate forums where candidates answer questions from local residents — and, going forward, we intend to post these so you can view them before voting. Our League welcomes younger members (and students ages 16-23 can join for free).

Voting is the way, as citizens, you voice your political preferences and help choose leaders who reflect your values. Our choices as voters govern many aspects of our lives. Not voting, sadly, also has consequences.

Despite how much you love your grandparents, would you want them choosing your music or your media? America has about 30 million citizens ages 18-24, and about 30 million seniors ages 65-74. But seniors have far more influence on politicians than young adults because twice as many seniors vote — in every election.

You can do your part to change that. Begin by spending 2 minutes on Vote411.org/new-york.

Again, congratulations to all our H.S. graduates and rising seniors! Now voice your values by voting!

-Julie Meer
President, League of Women Voters – Port Washington/Manhasset

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