BY SAREEN KASPARIAN
This year, my birthday held particular significance as it marked a pivotal rite of passage. For years, I eagerly awaited my 18th birthday, knowing that it would grant me the right to vote. And so, one of my inaugural steps into adulthood was to register to vote with the California Secretary of State.
Registering to vote was more than just a checkbox; it was a declaration of empowerment and responsibility. As I clicked the confirmation button, I felt a surge of significance and accomplishment, recognizing that my voice now carries weight in shaping the future of our community and society. Now, as an official voter, I not only have the opportunity to support the candidates I believe in but also to make a tangible difference with each ballot cast.
Receiving my confirmation email made me contemplate the additional rights and responsibilities I now bear as an adult. In the United States, the age of 18 is considered the “age of majority,” established by President Nixon in 1971 with the 26th Amendment. Historically, the age of majority was 21. However, when Franklin D. Roosevelt lowered the military draft age to 18 during World War II, there was a push to align the voting age with the military draft age.
In no particular order, I jotted down a partial list of what I am entitled to do at 18. I can now enter into a binding contract. This means I can open my own bank account, sign a lease, and apply for a loan. I can also consent to my own medical treatments, give blood, and go to doctor’s appointments without a guardian. I can inherit money, buy and sell stocks, and even buy lottery tickets. And of course, I can apply for and get a job without a special work permit. On the flip side, I can sue, but also be sued, as well as be subject to more serious consequences (as an adult) for breaking the law.
Although I have much to learn and experience about the perks of adulthood, I’m grateful for the opportunity and freedom to cast my first vote in the upcoming elections.
For non-registered voters, this is an ideal time to register — February 20, 2024 is the deadline to register online to vote in the March 5 primary election. It’s simple, easy, and only takes a few minutes to complete. Another great resource of Armenian Americans who are interested to find out more about registration, candidate forums, polling places and volunteering, please visit www.hyevotes.org. Launched by the ANCA-WR, the HyeVotes Initiative is a region wide, non-partisan initiative to engage community members in the electoral process.
Each voice matters, and by participating in the electoral process, individuals can actively shape the direction of their communities and the nation at large. Voting is not just a right; it is a civic duty and a powerful tool for enacting change. By registering to vote, individuals ensure that their concerns and values are represented in government decisions. Moreover, voting is a way to honor the sacrifices made by those who fought for suffrage rights and to uphold the principles of democracy. By engaging in the electoral process, we can collectively work towards building a more equitable and just society.
Therefore, I urge everyone who is eligible to register and exercise their right to vote, for it is through our collective participation that we can truly make a difference and create a better future for all.
Sareen Kasparian is currently a senior at Rose & Alex Pilibos Armenian School and a member of the Pasadena Nigol Touman chapter of the Armenian Youth Federation. Teachable Moments is a knowledge exchange, a column dedicated to sharing generational insight as we intertwine experience and reasoning with modern day problems and solutions.