As of today, Sept. 17, there are only 51 days left until Election Day, and the polls are tightening in what could be the most important election of our time. Whether you’re old enough to vote or not, you can still affect this year’s presidential race.
On everything — your voice matters. Use it.
By Ayanna Thompson
UNDERSTAND THE IMPACT
Police brutality has been a major issue for decades upon decades, and now, with cell phones and social media, more incidents are being captured as they happen and shared with the masses. Trump’s stance on the issue, as stated in a video on his website, is “The police in our country are not appreciated … Sure, there’ll be a bad apple. There’ll be a bad thing happen, and it ends up on the news for two weeks, and everybody hates the police … We have to give them more authority.” Meanwhile, Clinton has a plan: to “develop national guidelines on the use of force by police officers, making it clear when deadly force is warranted and when it isn’t.” She wants to focus on de-escalation, support legislation to end racial profiling, and fund training programs to combat biases that exist in police departments across the nation.
Already in college? The outcome of this election may determine whether you’ll make enough money post-grad (that whole equal pay issue) to pay off any student loans you may have. If college is still a few years away, the outcome can determine whether or not your higher education will be tuition-free by the time you enroll.
As a student, you may have times when you’d like to talk about reproductive health and options on your own. Planned Parenthood makes these visits more accessible by offering discounts (and sometimes complimentary services) on things like birth control and gynecological exams. Clinton supports Planned Parenthood all the way. Trump says it does great things for women, but because they also perform abortions, he wants to defund the entire organization.
IF YOU’RE OLD ENOUGH TO VOTE, DO IT.
If you’re 18 (or will be on or before Nov. 8), register to vote. You can do so online right now, or in person at the DMV, your local elections office, or at an armed services recruitment center. You can even print the registration form here and mail it in.
Once you’re registered, find out where your voting location is by looking on your voter registration card or by searching online at vote411.org. If you’ll be away at school on Election Day, download an absentee ballot here and mail it in. You can also check to see if your state allows early voting as an option.
Make sure you register before it’s too late! Deadlines are different in each state, but will probably fall sometime in October.
GET INVOLVED IN OTHER WAYS
On Social Media
You can most definitely read and share articles and videos you find on sites, such as Politico, The Huffington Post, Mic.com, The Root, The Daily Show, and others, but if you’re into blogging or have your own YouTube channel, consider creating your own content, too. Use these outlets to express your personal stance on campaign issues and encourage other teens to get involved. Taking the time to learn each party’s platform yourself, stay up on what goes down throughout the campaign, and share that info with your friends and family, can help make a difference.
In Your Community
Even if you can’t register to vote yet, you can still volunteer with a campaign and knock on doors, make phone calls, and register other people to vote. Sign up to get involved on the website of your chosen party, and you’ll receive e-mails on opportunities. When you see an event you’d like to join, just RSVP via e-mail and show up!
At Your School
Involved in a service- or advocacy-oriented after-school club? Plan activities the club can do as a unit — think raising money to donate to the campaign; launching a political podcast with a unique, teen voice; and registering students in your school to vote. You never know what connections you’ll make that may open doors for you later. Perhaps you could be learning the ropes for your own campaign one day!
In these last few weeks, make sure to stay up on current political happenings, so that you can make the most educated vote possible. Set aside at least 30 minutes to an hour each day to get the scoop.
This is a portion of an article that originally appeared in Sesi’s Fall 2016 issue. Subscribe here to get the full issue, here.