I remember the first time I voted. The year was 1972, and thanks to The Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, 18 year olds were granted the right to vote (July 1, 1971), and it was the quickest amendment ever to be ratified. I remember the national debates over lowering the voting age because it focused on all our friends being drafted to fight in Vietnam when they had absolutely no say about the war, who was sending them, and why. Having participated in the anti-war movement with hundreds of thousands of other young students across the country, I’d like to think our protests made a difference and forced the government to lower the voting age. So, when the time came in 1972 to vote in the presidential election, I cast my ballot for George McGovern.
Shortly before the election, McGovern came to the University of Cincinnati where I was studying. After his campaign speech, he thanked all the volunteers back stage, and I was thrilled to shake the hand of the next President of the United States of America. I just knew he would win. And, trust me, to this day, I still can’t believe that Nixon won (by a landslide) despite the fact that 52% of 18-24 year-olds showed up at the polls, the highest ever voter turnout of young adults including the 2008 Obama-McCain election.
So, I write this post the day before the elections as a reminder that anything can happen, and every vote matters. Here in North Carolina, we have a very important Senate race. I know who I’ll be voting for? You?