I Can’t Vote, But I Won’t Stand By

I Can’t Vote, But I Won’t Stand By (Katrina Machetta is seen here canvassing a neighborhood with election materials. (Photo courtesy of Katrina Machetta))

Spring, TXGrowing up in a politically-blended family, I have discussed and learned contrasting political perspectives from my family and friends in topics ranging from healthcare to gender equality to everything in between.

While people always say every vote counts, I believe that even without a ballot, my voice still matters. Although I may be too young to cast my vote in this election, I have found ways to participate. I’m not letting my age discourage me from mobilizing. I’ve taken part in democracy at every level, from school elections to local and state elections, and now to presidential elections. I find myself involved in all of them because whoever is elected, even if it’s just at school, will end up deciding the rules and policies that will impact me and my community.

I believe that through phone banking, registering people to vote, advocating for candidates, and going door-to-door to inform voters, I am making a difference.

Katrina Machetta goes door-to-door informing residents about voting dates,
locations, and handing out yard signs to spark political participation.
(Photo courtesy of Katrina Machetta)

While voting directly impacts the results, volunteering can also bring about lasting change regardless which candidate wins. To me, it is not just the politicians that are important, but also the platforms, actions and plans that they represent for the people of this country. For example, I’m particularly interested in the issue of equality — so I like to be involved in campaigns that lay out a clear path for people of all walks of life to have equal opportunities and top-tier education.

Through volunteering, I can amplify my peers’ voices on a bigger stage. Youth empowerment is really important to me because, as the next leaders of this democracy, we are the ones creating change that will last a lifetime.

Getting involved in campaigns has given me a front row seat to watch how politics works. I’ve learned more about what happens in government on local levels, and on state and national platforms, than I would if I had only read textbooks about the political system. In the classroom, we are all so politically divided about candidates and laws that I don’t get a chance to thoroughly research the issues and to really understand what each party stands for beyond the one-liners of my peers. When I am volunteering, I get real in-the-field experience that helps me learn more about specific issues in the community and also helps me to inform others about the inner workings of campaigns and governmental issues.

Watching how mobilized my generation has become, I have gained hope for change in this country. Encouraging those around me and creating a collective of youth voices through volunteering is what I believe will make a lasting impact.

At the end of the day, every vote and every voice, regardless of color or age, has a say in every election. Through volunteering, I know I am making a difference.

Even though my opinions don’t always match those of my friends and relatives, I find myself happily forming my own viewpoints, based on my experience working closely on the issues and talking to people in my community.

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