Cast a ballot

Senior Kyle Drenner raised awareness about the importance of voting for her senior project, including creating this brochure on the subject. “I don't think many people our age are as eager to vote or register to vote because they don't know what to do or who to vote for,” Drenner said.  “I originally thought I could impact this problem because I can connect to people my age and encourage them to register and vote.”

Senior Kyle Drenner raised awareness about the importance of voting for her senior project, including creating this brochure on the subject. “I don’t think many people our age are as eager to vote or register to vote because they don’t know what to do or who to vote for,” Drenner said. “I originally thought I could impact this problem because I can connect to people my age and encourage them to register and vote.”

In February of 1869, Congress passed an amendment to the Bill of Rights, preventing any government from denying a citizen the right to vote based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” as the original text states. Today that means any US citizen, 18 years or older, may vote.

“Voting allows the voice of the general public to be heard and often puts a candidate best suited for the job in office,” Decatur social studies teacher Christopher Curtis explained.

Choosing to vote gives citizens the choice in a decision.

“I believe the purpose of voting is to, as accurately as possible, represent the beliefs of a certain population in order to pick leaders and politicians that represent the ideologies of a region,” junior Luke Bumgardner, whose mom ran for School Board in 2011, said. 

The 18 year old age limit on voting means most high school seniors at Decatur can vote. Senior Kyle Drenner decided to encourage her peers to register to vote for her senior project.

“In my research I found that habits of voting and nonvoting persist over time,” she said. “Since student voters are declining, what’s going to encourage them to vote when they are older? It’s better to start the routine now.” 

Curtis also sees that younger generations are less likely to go to the polls, even though “this is the group that has the most to lose.” This action has consequences but can be altered.

“Historically speaking, the younger age groups have struggled to show up at the polls which means that the results of elections and legislation can be skewed towards older demographics,” he said. “If you want changes to occur or if you want the current state to continue, then you must go out there and exercise your right to vote. Understand the issues and then make the most informed decision that you will want to live with.”

Bumgardner agrees with Curtis and Drenner. 

“It’s a responsibility. Students should exercise their right to vote. I’m excited to be able to vote, to get that feeling that I’m making a difference in the world around by simply casting a ballot,” he said.

Drenner feels passionately about encouraging students to cast a vote, or at least get the proper paperwork to be able to. She has been connected to politics since she was young, mostly because her mother, Karla Drenner, is a State Representative from District 85.

“I experienced walking neighborhoods handing out flyers, door hangers and even voter registration forms. Being connected to it from a young age, I was always excited for the chance for when I could vote,” Drenner said.

The draw to this civic duty is something Curtis experiences as well.

“Voting relates to me as a teacher in several ways. Education is a consistent issue that gets voted upon – from issues pertaining to public and charter schools to SPLOST (Special-purpose local-optional sales taxes), there almost always seems to be some legislation or elector that is pushing for some sort of change in the educational world,” he said. “I enjoy voting and partaking in our democratic tradition that I teach.”

Voting benefits the community and the voter, helping them “begin getting involved in politics,” Drenner explained

Curtis agrees, voting made him “a more informed citizen.” 

Drenner hopes to pass this knowledge on to the senior class. 

“My goal for this project is to get at least eighty five percent of the eligible senior body registered to vote,” she said. 

A push for more young voters doesn’t just come from Drenner.

“Go out there and vote Seriously, it is not a lengthy or complex process, but it makes a world of difference,” Curtis said. “Voting is one of the few facets of our lives where our decisions hold equal weight to CEOs, Congressmen, and even the President. That is a pretty powerful sentiment to understand and truly shows that every vote does count.”