Does anyone know when 18-year-olds were first legally allowed to vote in this country? I do, I do! The 26th Amendment to the Constitution was passed in 1971, the reasoning being that if a soldier could be compelled to go and fight in the Vietnam War, he or she ought to be capable of casting a ballot as well. Pretty good reasoning, I thought at the time, as my classmates’ names were coming up in the draft lottery. I still think it’s good reasoning.
So when I was a BYU freshman in 1972, and about to turn 18, there was a registration table set up somewhere in the Wilk, and I very happily got myself registered to legally vote. Now, 1972 was a presidential election year. Did I study the candidates carefully and make a reasoned choice? I did not! I voted for Richard Milhous Nixon for president because, hey, why not? And since this all happened before most of you were even a twinkle in your grandpa’s eye, I’ll tell you that a year later I was sitting at my part-time job in a Fotomat booth (Where Your Foto Matters) listening to a transistor radio (never mind) when President Nixon resigned due to the revelations that came out during the Watergate scandal.
Here’s what I learned then. When it comes to elections, there is always a choice. Even when there’s only one name on the ballot, you can write someone in if you can’t bring yourself to vote for that name. But when there are two names? Then wahoo, get up on deck and unleash the kraken, because there’s work to do!
Do you vote based on who has the most or prettiest signs up? Based on who gives you pizza? Based on who is closest to your age? Based on who sends a van with a loudspeaker through the student neighborhoods on Nov. 5 in order to drive the dogies to the polls? No, you do not! Well anyway, you should not.
Every candidate has websites. These are great sources of information:
City-Wide Municipal Council:
District 5 Municipal Council (central district; many students live in District 5):
You may get invitations to cottage meetings. Also great. If you go to a cottage meeting for one candidate, try to go to an event for that candidate’s opponent as well. It’s all part of that weighing and balancing thing.
Finally, by all means try to make it to the one debate that’s being held for all the Provo city candidates — mayoral and council. The Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring it and it will be Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 7 pm in the council chambers of the city center which is 351 W Center St. in Provo.
I love BYU students, I really do. I work on campus, my husband is on the faculty, and all six of my children have attended this great school (I love UVU students too, but since this is the Provo Buzz …) I have confidence in your desire to do the right thing and to be responsible citizens. If you’re planning to vote, I know you’ll do your homework.
And by the way, keep coming in to the campus library (where I work). We have real books made of paper and leather and papyrus and vellum. You’ll never get that weird, musty and appealing smell of old books from opening your laptops.
See you Wednesday!