Writing and Infographic Contest

Congratulations to Tara Robinson, a 10th grader at Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technologies, and Alyssa Pavek, an 11th grader at Paxon School for Advanced Studies. Each participant and winner will receive a personal note from the Duval County Supervisor of Elections, Mike Hogan. Your participation and contributions have shown a high level of exploration and understanding. Your teachers should be proud of each of your contributions as they are direct reflections of your hard work and commitment to the learning process. The Supervisor of Elections Office is certainly proud and excited to have received the product of your efforts and knowledge. Congratulations to all contributors and your teachers!

Alyssa Pavek
Dr. Webster
AP Language Composition

Why Your Vote Matters

In the whirlwind that was the 2016 election, the voter turnout was 58 percent (PBS),
which meant that-of all the citizens of the United States who were eligible to vote- merely 58
percent of those people made their way to their local polling places to cast their ballot for the
future president. This number may not sound alarm sirens at first; after all, it indicates that more
than half of the citizens of the U.S. who were eligible to vote actually voted. However, it can be
agreed that that number can always be higher. Whenever election season drops anchor in our
lives every four years with its sea of advertisements, speeches, and debates splashing onto our
televisions, news sites, and social media sites, there are always are few people who choose not to
vote. While there are a myriad of reasons why people do not vote, the most contentious reason
for why people do not vote is that their vote will not matter. However, that is quite the contrary.
Everyone's vote matters, as it grants the American citizen the opportunity to assert their
influence in government decisions, so that Americans can choose a leader that best suits their
needs and do not feel helpless at the whims of a person or group of people who are not interested
in supporting the needs of the general population.
Regardless of where a person is planted on the political scale, Americans know their
problems and needs; thus, by voting, one's voice can be heard, hopefully leading to needs being
met. This is especially relevant to millennials, since they make up "one-third of the electorate"
(The Borgen Project), yet "less than 50 percent" of the millennials capable of voting did not vote
in the 2012 election (The Borgen Project). This is quite a shame, since if more millennials voted,
there could be a significant change in the policies brought about in the U.S. government that
could accommodate the beliefs and needs of millennials. After all, as of now in 2018, the United
States is under the reign of Republicans in the House of Representatives, Senate, and even in
President Trump, yet millennials are more liable to support ideas of the Democratic party, such
as the legalization of abortion (The Borgen Project). If more millennials voted, then more of
such ideas could be implemented into the American government, leaving more people of this age
group satisfied as their needs are met and their voices are heard. Even if their ideas are not
implemented into the government due to another idea being more popular, there can still be a
compromise that implements and combines the ideas of multiple demographics into certain
regulations, satisfying multiple groups of people. Additionally, "40 percent of millennials
identify as non-white" (The Borgen Project), making this age group the most diverse American
age group that can vote. To this day, multiple minority groups face persecution due to the colors
of their skin, whether it is in police brutality against minorities or the racial wage gap, so
millennials of minority groups can use their vote to advocate for stronger enforcement against
discrimination. In addition to having one's needs be met through the voting process, one's vote
matters in how it reduces the feelings of helplessness in Americans and the fate of their country.
In order to explain this point more fully, it would be appropriate to discuss the studies of
psychologists Martin Seligman and Steven Maier. By shocking dogs with an electric current
either with an option to escape shocks or no option to escape shocks, they came up with the idea
of learned helplessness. This phenomenon refers to when someone expects suffering without a
way to change it. Today, Americans are similar to the dogs that were given the option to escape
the shocks in that they have the ability to improve their lives as they are given the option to vote;
they are not helpless to the whims of certain groups as long as they exercise their vote to a
greater extent. After all, Americans were once like the dogs who were not given the option to
avoid the shocks as they were under the harsh rule of King George ill and the British Parliament,
who violated salutary neglect, constricted the American self-governments and economy through
burdensome taxes and royal governors, and hindered rights like free speech. However, the
Founding Fathers did find a way to escape such hardships by rebelling against the British rulers
and later implementing a democratic voting system to avoid the problems of helplessness faced
during British rule of America. Americans could then choose proper leaders to avoid suffering
and benefit themselves, thus benefiting society.
One could argue that sometimes, one's vote may not count because a person is not well
informed on politics. It is valid that a vote based on a lack of information about politics can be
problematic, but a person could improve the worth of their vote by educating themselves about
current political events before their vote. This can be done by reading reliable news sites like
CNN.com as well as reading about the candidates' views and watching the candidates give
speeches and partake in debates on television and YouTube. Additionally, children are educated
five days a week about their world, including history and current events, so that they are aware
of their surroundings and can use what they know to make logical decisions in their government.
In summary, everyone's vote counts because it gives people power and voice in the
government and makes people feel less helpless due to stronger political control. Many people
do not care about politics, which shows in the turnout rate for the last election. However, it must
be noted that politics is important in how it affects our daily lives, and it should be handled with
care through our votes. While the 2016 election was a whirlwind, we can make the next election
look like a bright sunny day in comparison if we value our votes and cast our ballots.

Word Count: 993
Works Cited
Biemolt, Alysha. "10 Facts on Why Voting Is Important." The Borgen Project, 11 Jan.
2018, borgenproject.orglvoting-is-importantf.
Learned Helplessness: Seligman's Theory of Depression ( Cure). Positive Psychology
Program, 24 Mar. 2018, positivepsychologyprogram.comllearned-helplessness-seligman-theorydepression-

Infographic by Tara Robinson