Warrior Words: The beauty of the ballot

At 5:15 a.m. I arrive at the Wilton High School Clune Center. The brisk autumn air sends shivers through my body helping me stay awake. This is the second year I worked at the Election Day polls. To me, Election Day always possesses a sort of frenetic energy. Perhaps it’s the collection of proud memories I have while accompanying my parents to vote as a kid or maybe it’s the well-appreciated day off from school. Despite not being quite old enough to vote this year (50 days short to be exact), I choose to be involved in a different way — manning the ballot box to ensure that people filled out their ballots properly when they cast their vote.

There is something truly significant about witnessing an election in the works. Just before 6 a.m., a line of people eager to vote prior to going to work or beginning their morning exercise forms at the entryway of the polling place. Over the course of the day, I spot countless familiar faces from my beloved fourth-grade teacher to a former neighbor. Moms and dads come to vote with their children in tow, explaining to them, “We can’t fill in every bubble, we have to pick the best candidate.” They endure the process, watching as the machine startlingly swallows the ballot and enthusiastically receiving the essential “I Voted” sticker on their way out the door. Plenty of my older peers reach a milestone on this day as well. Aside from being legally able to skydive, purchase a lottery ticket, or enlist in the army — they exercise their right to vote for the very first time!

Next year when I am 18 and off at college somewhere, I fully intend on taking advantage of my exciting new right by voting via absentee ballot. Throughout the course of my life, politics have always piqued my interest. Reading the paper and watching the news has become a habit for me. I could never understand why some people don’t care about politics. Without a doubt, you should probably avoid excessively posting about politics on social media or discussing them with a friend, however, these events are far too relevant and affect virtually every aspect of the local, state, and national community to simply ignore.

Besides educating yourself on current events and policy, voting is the best way you can be an active participant in the political process. The voter turnout for this year’s election was 33%, in comparison to a 39% turnout from the 2015 municipal election when there was a contested first selectman’s race. Both turnouts were far better than the exceptionally low and unsettling 12% voter turnout for the 2013 municipal election. When conferring about the turnout with my AP Government teacher, Brian Jacobs, he provided me with the insightful point that with this statistical increase from previous years, “Wilton should be proud of what they’ve accomplished, but shouldn’t remain satisfied with the results. Voting is an integral part of democracy, for it allows people the opportunity to express their opinions. It should continuously be encouraged at both local and federal levels.”

Regardless of what positions are being voted on, your vote matters. The registrars of voters and a variety of local organizations work tirelessly to ensure that people take advantage of their right to vote. If you’re not around to vote, you can cast an absentee ballot. If you’re you unable to make it to the polling place, there are volunteer drivers and curbside voting is available. If you are visually impaired, tactile voting devices are also available for your use. The outcome of these elections has a tremendous impact on Wilton’s citizens and their day-to-day lives in regards to school quality, economic development, taxes, and numerous other issues. Voting is a luxury, so don’t let your voice go unheard. I know that I look forward to casting my ballot in November of 2018.

Shelby Connor is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with five classmates.