The official student newspaper of Oak Park and River Forest High School

The Trapeze

The official student newspaper of Oak Park and River Forest High School

The Trapeze

The official student newspaper of Oak Park and River Forest High School

The Trapeze

    Vote. Our future depends on it.

    The Illinois primary election is on March 19! Make your vote count.

    At this point in the year, many of us have seen Nikki Haley on Saturday Night Live or Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in the infamous Super Bowl ad that invoked his famous uncle, John F. Kennedy Jr. Pretty much anyone with a TV has seen a plethora of political commentary and advertisements, but the election itself still seems very far away.

    However, the primary election in Oak Park is fast approaching on March 19. In addition to the presidential race, many other local and congressional government positions will be on the ballot.

    The importance of this election cannot be overstated. Throughout the country, anywhere from 35% to 60% of eligible voters don’t cast ballots during an election, according to Five Thirty Eight, a polling aggregation website.

    While it can feel as though your vote will get drowned out amidst thousands of other votes, this is entirely false, especially in local elections. One of my favorite examples of this is from the show “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” in which the main character Larry decides not to vote for a local election, and thus causes his candidate of choice to lose by one vote. While this was emphasized for comedic effect, this is a very likely possibility in local elections.

    Here’s a local, real-life example: this past April, in the school district next to ours, a key race was decided by a mere 12 votes when newcomer Jenny Barbahen unseated longtime board member Theresa Kelly in Proviso District 209. Those 12 votes gave a majority to a reform slate of candidates, who took the district in a new direction.

    That’s just one example of how a local election can dramatically impact lives. Your local government is composed of the people who will decide on the budgets for educational programs, approve spending or take care of local infrastructure. This can affect the quality of the roads you drive on, the budget of the school you go to and many other aspects of everyday life.

    That’s not the only reason some people question the value of voting. In the 2016 Election, Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton lost out to the Republican candidate Donald J. Trump by 77 Electoral votes, despite winning the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes.

    “People in any state should always vote despite the dynamics of the Electoral College,” said William Young, one of two AP Government and Politics teachers at Oak Park and River Forest High School. “Obviously many Republicans in Illinois may feel like their vote doesn’t count, and a Democrat in Tennessee might also feel like their vote doesn’t count in a presidential election. However, a vote sends a message and affirms support for a candidate, and many people in our nation’s history fought very hard to earn this right.”

    When you cast your ballot, you are really informing your elector on how to vote. One vote can in fact turn a district from red to blue or vice versa, and that is where the true difference lies. In my opinion, the current electoral system is incredibly flawed. But reform would require a Constitutional amendment that must be approved by two-thirds of the House of Representatives and the Senate–which is highly unlikely to happen.

    Our best option is to participate in the system we are given. If you will be 18 by Nov. 5, the date of the presidential election, you are old enough to vote in the March 19 primary election. So head to the polls. It’s your chance to make history.

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