Full disclosure: I am one of the many basic individuals who took a self-indulgent photo with their voting sticker. At the risk of sounding cliché, it’s not about the sticker, it’s about what the sticker represents. Exercising your 5th Amendment right is such a vital aspect of being a citizen of this country. Admittedly, I have grappled for almost a year about my choice for the highest office. In my opinion, neither choice would be considered ideal. My ultimate decision was not completely clear until it was laid out before me on the ballot. Ultimately, my choice was based solely on which candidate was more strongly aligned with my morals, which is what I urge everyone to consider when entering the voting booth. Above all else: Abstaining from voting is not an option.

Believe it or not, we as a generation now make up the majority. “Census Bureau data released in April estimated the number of millennials in the United States at 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million members of the aging Baby Boom generation, now 51-69” (Page & Cescente, 2016). Therefore, when news outlets broadcast the sentiment that “Your vote matters”, that may be the only thing they are truthful about in regard to this election. “83 percent of Millennials across the country are now registered. This spike in registrations, as many state deadlines approach, represents an exciting rise in enthusiasm and activation among young and first-time voters. Our generation is stepping up and disproving the popular narrative that we are apathetic or disengaged, just in time for the 2016 election — and just as the term ‘Millennial voters’ keeps popping up in media headlines and cable news tickers” (Moore, 2016).

When I showed up to the poll this past Friday, surprisingly, I was met with fanfare because of my first-time voter status. When I handed the elderly man my voter registration card, he excitedly announced to the whole room “Hey ladies and gents, we’ve got a first-timer!” which was met with smiles and applause. Despite the notion portrayed in mainstream media that this election was doomed from the start, we as Americans have the inherent right to choose who leads us all the way into 2020. It is vitally important that citizens of this country do not take for granted that we are born with a right that many around the world are not ever given the opportunity to do. So, before grumbling that elected officials are corrupt, the system is rigged, etc., please remember that voting is a privilege and a right.

Moore, J. (24 Oct. 2016). The Millenial Vote: A Turning Point. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jesse-moore-/the-millennial-vote-a-tur_b_12623404.html

Page, S., & Crescente, F. (14 Aug. 2016). Young voters flee Donald Trump in what may be historic trouncing, poll shows. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/08/14/donald-trump-historic-trouncing-among-younger-voters-hillary-clinton-president-poll/88666746/