Vote for Our Future


Beth Wolde, Catonsville '21

Artwork inspired by President Donald Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacy.

In 2016, 100 million or 43% of eligible voters didn’t vote. The 2020 election is arguably one of the most important elections in history; rights are at stake. We cannot repeat the outcome of the last election. We must vote. 

Every four years the people of America go out and have their voice heard. Polls are on every block, people have stickers saying, “I Voted!”. The Presidential Election is one of the most important parts about being an American. The President is the leader of our country. They represent who we are as a nation. But we often take our right to vote for granted. People don’t vote because they never had to fight for it; it was always a given. But by throwing your vote away, you are diminishing the struggle that others went through to give their children a voice. In 1870, the 15th amendment passed, stating that you cannot deny the right to vote based on race, but states found different ways to deny Black people the right to vote. It wasn’t until 1965 that voting barriers were taken away. Women couldn’t vote until 1920, Asian Americans couldn’t vote until 1952, Native Americans weren’t allowed to vote until 1947, but weren’t allowed to vote without intimidation or literacy tests until 1965. To this day, US citizens from US colonies such as Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, and American Samoa cannot vote in presidential elections. Your right to vote is a privilege. Do not let it go to waste.  

Registering to vote is easy. You must be 18 years old by election day to vote, you must be an American Citizen, and you must meet the residency requirements in your state. You can register to vote before you’re 18. Some people with felonies cannot vote. In Maryland, anyone with a felony that has completed their sentence can vote. The only felony that does not meet this is buying or selling votes. Maryland is also accessible to everyone. Some states have regulations on people with disabilities voting, but Maryland has no regulations and offers help to those in need. To vote in Maryland, you must be living in the state at least 21 days before the election. Additionally, you do not need proof of citizenship when registering to vote in Maryland.  

To register, most states require you to go to the DMV and register there, but there’s an option to register online. When you register, they will ask for identification, unless you register when you get some form of ID at the DMV, what party you want to register under, and basic information such as date of birth, address, etc. They will usually send you a voter registration card to show when you vote, but sometimes they don’t in states that don’t require you to show an ID when you vote.  

A study by Pew Research Center showed that 25% of registered voters polled did not vote in the previous election because they didn’t like either candidate. The majority of people said they didn’t want Donald Trump as president, yet he was elected. Not liking a candidate doesn’t prevent them from getting elected, in fact not voting increases the chance of the worse candidate winning. An election is about choosing the person who is best fit for office, which is not necessarily the person you like.

Artwork inspired by the Vice-Presidential Debate. (Beth Wolde, Catonsville ’21)

In this election, the candidates have very opposing viewpoints. One candidate has a plan to issue a mask mandate and to reverse the withdrawal from the World Health Organization. The other has opposed a national mask mandate. One candidate believes that climate change is real and is mainly caused by humans. He has a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and rejoin the Paris Agreement, while the other candidate ignored the science behind climate change as doesn’t plan to do anything about it. One candidate disagrees with the separation of immigrant families in 2019, and the other one stated it was “not a mistake”. One candidate wants thinks that abortion should be publicly funded, while the other wants to put more restrictions on it. One wants to ban assault weapons and require background checks on every gun purchase while the other doesn’t think it’s necessary (even after countless school shootings). One candidate supports anti-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ+ communities and same sex marriage while the other does not, and lastly, one candidate understands that there is a race issue in this country, while the other couldn’t even denounce white supremacy. If you are a woman, a person of color, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, a student, someone who could be seriously affected by the virus, or an immigrant, this election impacts you way too much to ignore it and throw away your vote. If you don’t identify as any of those things you should be grateful that your rights are not at risk. Put yourself in their shoes and realize that rights and potentially lives are at stake in this election. 

Absentee ballots are very much talked about for this election. With the pandemic and social distancing still in place, people are scared to go to the polls in person. Absentee ballots allow you to vote at home and send your ballot through the mail, so there shouldn’t be a reason not to vote. Each state has a deadline to apply for one. To apply, go onto your state’s website and enter in your information. Some states require an excuse, but in some states like Maryland, you don’t need one.  

There’s also the fear of your ballot not being sent in on time. The USPS has been slow due to COVID 19 and funding cuts. People are worried their ballots may get lost in the mail, or they won’t get there in time and their vote won’t be counted. There is an alternative option, though. Usually around polling places, or any other public building, drop-off boxes are available. When you put your ballot in one of these, it goes directly to your local board of elections and will be counted immediately on Election Day. They’re also secure with locks and cameras inside the box and surrounding it to make sure no votes are tampered with. 

Last election had one of the lowest voter turnouts in history. This year needs to have one of the highest voter turnouts in history. Too much is at stake in this election that we can’t afford to be picky. Both candidates are extremely flawed, but there is one obvious candidate that will do less harm. Put your privilege aside and vote to save our country.