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Vote: Use Your Power

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Knowing I will finally be able to vote in a presidential election excites me. I’ve always had an interest in politics, whether it’s reading articles, watching the news or even watching political comedy sketches on “Saturday Night Live.” Now, I can combine my interests and excitement for the next presidential election. And although I can’t vote until 2016, the presidential election is not the only opportunity and time I can and should vote.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard teens and adults say they only vote or would only vote during the presidential elections. It is important to vote every time the opportunity presents itself because it is a rolling process. What happens locally will affect your surroundings. The congressmen or women you vote for have to work with the president, so you want to make sure you vote for those you strongly believe will make both the country and your state or community better places.

In order to know who to vote for, you have to know about the different types of elections.

Primary Elections: Primaries are the elections that occur before the final election, so you are initially voting for finalists in either the Republican or Democratic party. Voting in the primaries will establish who will run against each other in the general election.

General Elections: The general election is when voters pick which officials — local, state and national — they would like to see in office. This takes place on Election Day, which is always held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November, so I will be able to vote for a new president for first time on Nov. 8, 2016.

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When you vote in the primary and general elections, you are are also voting for local officials and laws that will affect your city and state.

It is important to learn and pay attention to candidates and their campaigns. You can do this by watching the news more often but be careful of the sources you use. You can also read articles online on PolitiFact.com that help you evaluate the truthfulness of candidates’ political claims.

I encourage all young adults to vote when they turn 18. All you have to do is register for free, meet the residency requirements of your current state and comply with deadlines. I urge you to not wait to vote every four years but vote in your local elections as well. I can’t wait to be able to vote for who I hope will be our future president in the 2016 election, but now I know the benefits of voting in all elections. Small efforts can make big changes.

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