Where Are You Dropping Your Pin, Citizen 18-Year Old?

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“May you live in interesting times,” is a statement often characterized as a “Chinese curse.” Whether a curse or a fortune, these are definitely interesting times. These are times that demand decisions, even if made quietly and privately. 151 students at West Orange High School are over 18 years of age and eligible to cast votes in the November 6th midterm elections. Are they registered to vote?  Do they know where their polling place is? Are they aware of the candidates and their stances on issues? Are you?

People would like to think they have you pegged; they think they know your behaviors well. 18 year olds are often lumped together in the category of “Millenials.” That’s a grave misunderstanding. You’re fresher than that. You have different preferences, different practices than Millenials do. The World Wildlife Fund says you are the last generation that can “save nature.” Statisticians analyze what you consume in the way of media, food, and entertainment. They think the cookies that they track give you away.

Here’s what we know about you: on March 14th, 2018 many of you participated in National Walkout Day in honor of those who lost their lives at Parkland High School, Florida and many others opted not to walk out for a variety of reasons. Some of you put together moving performances, visceral poetry recitations, creative expressions of outrage. Some of you felt solid in your right to exercise a different type of expression: abstaining. Seven months have passed since March, and now 151 students have the opportunity to add a VOTE to their voice. The place of power is at the polls. YOU place your representatives in positions of power.

Do you have your doubts about exactly how much power you have at the polls? Do you have issues with politics? Here are 10 rebuttals to ‘why I don’t vote. Here’s what a former president has to say in response to typical excuses given around voting. No matter who or what you support, you are talking to the void if your opinions are solely verbal. You are part of the void if you’re ducking the conversation completely. Be heard. Cast your vote.

Sure – voting the first time is a little overwhelming. Doing anything the first time feels a little awkward. However, here are some resources to help you be a prepared and informed voter:

Am I registered? Find out here. If you didn’t get registered for the November 6th – ouch. But get registered for future elections. Here’s a voter registration form. Fill it out and mail it in.

Don’t know WHAT’s being decided by voters on November 6th? There is a U.S. SENATE race, a U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES race, there are 3 COUNTY races (You live in ESSEX County), there is a MAYORAL race in West Orange township, a TOWN COUNCIL race – 2 seats open, there is a BOARD OF EDUCATION race (2 seats open) and there is a PUBLIC QUESTION and a TOWN-specific question — all put before voters on November 6th.

Don’t know WHO to vote for? Here are all candidates with their websites laid out for you.  Google them to go deeper.

Don’t know WHERE to vote? This website will tell you exactly where you must go to cast your vote; it’s based on your home address.

Don’t know WHEN to vote? Here’s the countdown to November 6th. You have the day off from school! 151 people 18 year-olds can sleep in and then go to vote. Polls are open from 6AM – 8PM on 11/6/18. Get there. (Uber and Lyft are giving complimentary rides to the polls, btw).

Pundits think they have Gen Z figured out, but 18 year olds can redefine that understanding. Some candidates want you to go to the polls, some candidates wouldn’t mind if you didn’t get to the polls based on their assumptions about you. There is a spectrum of opinions from A to Z out there – where are you dropping your pin on that continuum? Only you can say. We hope you say it at a polling place on November 6th.

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