Editor's Note: This article was written by Maggie Allred, a senior at Mansfield Senior High School. This school year, look for her monthly articles in thrive that showcase "thriving" people and movements in the city school district.
It can sometimes be a struggle to find high schoolers who are interested in politics; let alone local politics. However, a majority of those who are interested happen to be unable to vote in the upcoming local election. Despite this, they are passionate, informed, and excited for the first day they can go to the polls.
The importance of underaged people’s opinions on politics, in general, is extremely vital, yet underrated. The younger generation’s opinions on politics is the future of our country, state, county, city, or small town.
The highly anticipated mayoral debate between Mayor Tim Theaker and Councilman Don Bryant on October 17th has been a big conversation. Mansfield Senior High School has been advertising the event to the students, so the school’s population is well aware of what is to come.
Brookelynn Brown, age 17, encourages her peers to pay attention to what is going on with the people in charge.
“We should all be educated on local politics. If you have the ability to vote, do it. It’s so important to understand what’s going on and who is in control of us. As minors, we can’t vote, but that shouldn’t stop us from keeping ourselves informed.”
Unfortunately, the wise words of many teenagers like Brookelynn frequently go unnoticed. Many people shrug them off because the person that is educating them can’t put their opinion on a ballot. However, this won’t stop some students. They refuse to have their voices silenced.
“A lot of people under 18 are contributing to make our community a better place and helping Mansfield evolve. We all have a role and place here, so our opinions should matter as well.” says 17 year old, Deven Knipp. “It doesn’t matter your age, race, size, religion...all of us have voices that deserve to be heard.”
These enthusiastic future voters share a common frustration, and that is seeing people that are eligible to vote doing the complete opposite, and avoiding the polls altogether.
“If you’re of age, you should vote. I know it’s extremely important, especially in a local election, because your vote affects your own personal environment.” says senior, Bailey Compton. “Being able to have a say in your own government is something a lot of people take for granted, especially locally, which is sad because it is just as important as a presidential election.”
15 year old Erynn Vaughn agrees. “Why wouldn’t you vote when you can? It’s a right you are given, and you should use it, because it can be taken away from you.”
Early voting is already underway at The Richland County Board of Elections Office, and Election Day is November 5th. There was only an 11 percent voter turnout during the primary election, so take the students advice and get out and vote.
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