By Tasawwar Rahman (‘22), Editor-in-Chief of the IA Overachiever
(For nearly 250 years, through Pandemics and Wars, Americans have always fought to make their voices heard. Image courtesy of NYT)
We the People. These are the first words enshrined in our constitution, a document that led us to embark upon this great American experiment. However, that piece of parchment written in Philly all those years ago would mean nothing unless We the People chose to believe in its highest promise, to see a brighter future. And while by no means was that document perfect, what gives me hope is that enduring resolve to form a more perfect union. Now once again, as we have for the past 244 years, we are given the chance to turn that dream into a reality. Change is slow, it doesn’t happen overnight, and politics can feel distant or unimportant but your vote does matter. Your vote, and the votes of thousands like you, can change the course of history.
While we may only be in high school and many of us are not yet able to fully participate in the public discourse, we are in the midst of history. Further, we are the future. The views and actions of this generation will carry forward to the next and change the world. It is with that understanding in mind that the IA Overachiever (newspaper) has decided to sponsor a Mock General Election to help us to fully appreciate the moment in which we are living. However, despite the great opportunities that this mock election presents, it is important to fully understand the differences between it and a real election.
Politics is fundamentally about struggle, who gets what, when, and why are all determined through our representatives elected by a plurality of the polity. Therefore, it is only appropriate that voting, one of our most important acts of public service, is not as easy as filling out a google form. To qualify to vote in real life, you must be a US citizen over the age of 18 (with certain restrictions for Felons/ex-Felons). Further, in Michigan, you are required to show a Voter ID which can be anything from as official as Passport or mundane as a school card. Though, if you don’t happen to have an ID, which is the case for a significant portion of the population, you may alternatively sign an Affidavit in order to vote. Additionally, while you do have to register to vote, something which is also not reflected in the google form, in Michigan that can happen up to election day. It is also important to note that we at the Overachiever use the term “absentee voting” loosely in relation to this mock election. In actuality, absentee voting is an inconvenient multistep process which includes registering to vote, filling out and mailing in an absentee ballot application, before finally receiving your ballot. Processes such as straight ticket voting and making sure to select the appropriate number of candidates for each race are not fully expressed either. Lastly, and perhaps most profoundly, our ballot notably excludes local races responsible for a vast majority of day to day governance. This choice was one of practicality and in no way meant to undercut the critical importance of these races.
Another important political reality that must be carefully acknowledged is the rise of voter suppression and disinformation. Voter suppression manifests itself in many ways such as through restrictive voter registration or identification laws or simply even the presence of long lines and police in poor or minority communities. These actions combined or separately have the effect of reducing turnout and disenfranchising certain communities. Moreover, since 2016, the proliferation of foreign election interference and the rapid spread of disinformation have become a new reality to remain vigilant about.
Overall, the intention of the form is not to reflect the realities of voting but rather to capture the sentiments of the school at large. As a result, this article is meant to serve in lieu as a basic guide to help you piece together the beautiful intricacies that is democracy. And if you are able, our message is clear, VOTE! Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, Independent, or something else, your voice matters, your vote matters, and you have the opportunity to change our nation for the better. It falls on each and every one of us, as Americans, to perform this sacred duty to uphold the democracy which we love so dearly for ourselves and our posterity.
If you have any questions, please go to MI.gov/vote or contact your local city clerk for more information.