Aug. 18, exactly 11 weeks before our national election, is the 100th anniversary of the amendment to our Constitution granting women the right to vote. Those who fought to turn that privilege into a right might be startled to see what we now face.
I just turned 13, and I listen to adults talk about politics and the election. Whether they talk about COVID-19 keeping voters and workers away from the polls, or problems with technology, or foreign governments using social media to influence Americans, I have not heard anyone predict smooth sailing.
The state of Washington’s top election official told a reporter last spring, “I guarantee you that half of the country cannot conceive that Republicans can win in November. The other half of the country cannot conceive that Democrats can win.” Are half of our voters really going to consider the outcome to be beyond their imagination?
Primary season wasn’t very reassuring. States from Iowa to California to Georgia to Wisconsin had problems with their elections that were described as surprising and disappointing, using words such as “meltdown.”
Unlike in many states, eligible voters in Maine seem to care enough to show up and vote. Assuming that the pandemic, the post office, and other problems don’t keep them away this year, perhaps this election season offers an opportunity.
Why don’t parents and grandparents talk with their kids about how and why people vote, about state and local candidates as well as the White House race? The goal would be for kids my age to learn more about our country, increasing interest in how our government works. Hopefully, kids my age will become better informed citizens and volunteers.
As students at all of our colleges and universities try to figure out whether and how they will go to school in the next few weeks, Maine might copy Michigan’s efforts. Michigan started an “MVP” program to create more interest in working at the polls on Election Day. As older folks in Maine decide against working at voting sites, younger generations can fill the gap, knowing that their chances of a milder reaction to the coronavirus are better. The state requires that poll workers be registered voters, so I have to wait five years.
But after a hundred years of trying to get this right, I guess my classmates and I can wait another five.
Rangeley Newmyer is an eighth grader from Rangeley.