New voters experience democratic highs

November, a month in which you eat turkey, watch the leaves change, and put away your shorts. It is also the month that determines how the public will be represented in Washington D.C. every two years. When election time rolls around, many students are left out of this most sacred civic duty. According to basic state laws, United States citizens are allowed to vote only at the age of 18, which has caused many younger students to become upset. “It sucks,” sophomore Nate Ryan said. “I wish I could choose the people that will eventually screw me over.” However, there are students at the high school who are able to take part in this important American ritual. Senior Alan Moss is one of the few lucky citizens. “I am proud to say I voted,” Moss said. “If you don’t vote, you might as well be a terrorist.” For the first-time voter, the experience can be quite exhilarating. People vote in the polling places assigned to them depending on where they live. The residents of northeast Ames, for example, vote at Somerset Church. When entering the building, there is generally a row of tables set up to check in voters. Voters are given a choice between paper and electronic voting machines. Problems always seem to arise from using the electronic machines, so most voters tend to use the traditional method. After the voter has finished filling in the bubbles, the ballot is inserted into a black box where it waits to be counted. “I voted absentee,” Moss said. “I am just a lazy person, I guess. It was also just easier for me.” Absentee voting, of course, is the method of voting where voters fill out a ballot prior to the national Election Day and then mail it in. It is beneficial to those who are not going to be home on Election Day, such as soldiers. Absentee voting was initially created so that Civil War soldiers could vote, and this method has been largely used since then. The idea of many people voting overshadows the fact that the United States has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the Western world. It is considered a bad turnout in Germany if 90% of the people vote, while in the United States, it is considered lucky if 15% of college students vote. “I feel that voting is my duty as a citizen,” senior Brenden Babcock said. “It’s important for everyone to be part of the government.” Babcock is another Ames High student who voted in his first election just a few weeks ago. History and Government teacher Kirk Daddow is known for encouraging his students to vote in every election they can. “People who don’t vote are taken advantage of by those who do,” he said. “Voting makes the choice yours.“ Voting is the best way to practice the freedoms as a United States citizen. Nothing says it more then choosing who runs the country. Remember, good people who don’t vote send bad politicians to Washington.