Tessa Uviedo

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Our Future - Our Vote
Youth Initiative Contest

High School Winner

The polls are open, and lines across the country are overflowing with people of every race, gender, religion, sexuality, and ability, because every vote matters. When I imagine a democratic society, this is what I see.

Every year, too many voices, especially those of marginalized groups, are muzzled by obstacles they never saw coming. Even someone who holds every right to cast a ballot can be pushed away by voter ID laws, fall victim to voter roll purges, or simply become the prey of harmful legislation. I am only seventeen; I hold no legislative or even voting power, but I know this can change. The biggest enemy of democracy is falsity. Rumors soar across the internet so swiftly that they misinform and misshape people’s views of the electoral process. The media has framed the issue with voting as letting too many people in when conversely, we are still leaving too many people out. Regardless of my age, I possess the ability to accurately communicate how people can go about voting, to ensure their vote counts, and to educate those who misconstrue the problems of our voting operations.

Democracy lies at the foundation of our country, but recently, we have seen cracks forming in that foundation. I believe that my generation and myself hold the power to start repairing those fractures to begin healing our country. When we can all respect one another, then a truly democratic society can form. We will never all hold the same opinions, but that’s the beauty of our country and its marketplace of ideas because we occupy the chance to hear and learn from one another. Democracy can only function when we value one another and do not act solely in the interest of ourselves or our beliefs. I can envision a world where everyone can stand in that poll line as an equal, with every expectation to leave proudly marked by an “I Voted” sticker.

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