By Allison Ashley

Obama or Romney? We need to be involved. Our future depends on it. Most teenagers are too young to vote, but that doesn’t mean our ideas can’t influence other eligible voters. Obtaining the right to vote when turning 18 is someone’s first chance to represent the younger generation as an adult.

“I am very excited to vote,” said Tori Gimpel, a senior who turned 18 in June. “Now that I am 18, I get the privilege for the first time to be seen as an adult and taken seriously because I get to vote.”

In the last presidential election in 2008, voters ages 18 to 24 were the only age group to show a significant increase in number of voters. They increased to 49%, a 2% increase from the previous presidential vote. It is still far below the 70% rate of those ages 65 and older who vote.

Many of the major issues in the government affect our generation the most: reproductive rights, public school funding, availability of jobs for young people, equality for all Americans, and the recession, just to name a few.

Teenagers have opinions on almost everything, and generally let everyone know it. This election should not be any different.

The older generations are mortgaging our future by running up the debt of this country. They need to pay their own way. If they want more government services, they should pay for them; if they don’t want to pay, then they should reduce them. The current debt in this country is over $16 trillion and increasing by over $3.85 billion per day. If you were not concerned before, now you should be.

Our parents always tell us to work out our differences. Maybe they should take their own advice, and Democrats and Republicans should work together to solve the problems that our country is facing. Creating a more stable future for the younger generation should be a priority.

As young people, one of the biggest ways to make changes in America is by registering to vote. But why are only 49% of the eligible young people voting? Many shy away because they think that government is a place for older people. The truth is, the more people who vote, the more diverse the issues in America will become.

I encourage everyone who is eighteen to educate themselves on both political parties’ beliefs and to make a choice based on what they believe in. If you are not yet eligible to vote, get engaged, influence your parents, read about the process, ask questions, demand from your elected officials answers and the respect you deserve.

Even if you do not find yourself particularly interested in politics now, vote because you can. It is a legal right given to everyone as they become an adult. Just stop and think how lucky we are to be given that right.

People in countries all over the world are in wars, putting their lives at risk, just to have a say in what their government does.

It’s a right we are given that so many young people in Democratic countries take for granted. I hope that during this election season, that can change.

“This year, my voice will finally be heard in society,” Tori said.

If you have turned 18 by Election Day on November 6th, make your vote count. No matter whom you decide to vote for, you now have the power to represent teenagers on issues that affect us all.