Dear fellow Ithacans,

????????I am a high schooler living in Ithaca. Even though I am not yet able to vote this year, I have a request for all young voters: please read this.

I am a volunteer and Field Representative with Leslie Danks Burke’s campaign for New York State Senate in District 58. Leslie began running for State Senate because she was frustrated with how many of our district’s youth have been forced to flee our communities because they couldn’t find jobs and job security. Her opponent, Senator Tom O’Mara has not addressed this issue enough, and Danks Burke wants our Southern Tier Finger Lakes region to be a place where young people can grow up and have the opportunity to stay and live with stability. Leslie says,“It’s not a Democrat problem, it’s not a Republican problem, it’s a leadership in Albany problem. We need someone to go to Albany who’s going to fight for a real seat at the table for the Southern Tier and the Finger Lakes.”?

This November, I encourage you to vote Leslie for State Senate because her mission is to fight for our future here in the Southern Tier Finger Lakes region. This November’s election is particularly important and will require a high youth voter turnout, something that has been too low for too long. This year, that needs to change.

In 2016, only?46.1 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds voted in the November election. This shocking number shows that the majority of young people did not vote. Why is this the case? Maybe they never learned how to register, or they registered, but never found out where their polling place was. Beyond the logistical setbacks of learning how to vote, I suspect that young voters don’t show up at the polls for a more fundamental reason: they believe that their votes don’t matter.

When students aren’t taught in high school that their vote matters, how can we possibly believe otherwise?? When we are raised witnessing elections that were run and decided by old billionaires, how can we believe that our one vote will make a difference? Frankly, seeing this cynicism in my generation worries me, but it’s the same cynicism shared across generations.

In 2016,43 percent of all registered voters said that their vote wouldn’t make a difference. That cynicism ultimately swayed the election: only?80,000 votes?across three states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) made Trump president. That means that only?0.06% of voters decided the biggest national election in the U.S. It couldn’t be clearer: your vote matters.

This year needs to be different and it all starts with?young voters. To all of the voters in my generation: register now and vote as early as you possibly can. If we turn out, we can create the world we want to live in. This election, we cannot afford the luxury of being cynical, we need to act.

I am only 15 years old and am too young to vote in this election. That is why it is so important for everyone else who can vote to do so. After all, as George Jean Nathan said, “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who don’t vote.”

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