Voter Prep

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My U.S. government teacher asked the whole class if any of us are going to vote this year. Most of my classmates said no because they don't feel that their vote counts or they just don't care. I might not vote either, but for a totally different reason. I might not vote because I respect the privilege so much, that the last thing I'd want to do is cast an uninformed ballot.

I know that voting for the wrong things in education can affect me in every way. For instance, I have seen budget cuts affect the school that I attend. My district has cut the number of days we are in class, and threatened to cut librarians, counselors and sports.

In California, ballot measures and propositions are confusing. Right now I wouldn't be able to tell you exactly what a proposition is, nor how it would affect me.

We almost had a mock vote in my U.S. Government class, and it's the closest I've gotten to understanding how voting actually works. Our teacher was running as a dictator of all things, and a fellow student was running on the communist ticket. Everyone paid close attention to the debate and the candidates, but before any of us could raise our hands to vote, the teacher declared that she should be the dictator and that class was dismissed. When I left that day, I understood what it meant to be ruled by an autocrat, but not what it meant to vote.

It's school's responsibility to prepare students for the world, but no teacher has ever explained a sample ballot to me. Also it should be mandatory to teach current events within high school government classes. Lessons should focus more on the new presidential candidates and what they're proposing, rather than presidents past.


The most intimidating part of voting is the vocabulary -- words like provisions, implementation and initiative statutes are all over the place. It's like learning a foreign language and where else am I going to learn that, besides school.

When November comes, I really want to vote but I don't see how I can positively affect my country if I just check a random yes or no on voting day.

With a Perspective, I'm Kayla Seay.

Kayla Seay is 18 years old and about to graduate high school in San Leandro. Her commentary was produced by Youth Radio.