Our View: Let’s get ready to vote | TheUnion.com

Our View: Let’s get ready to vote

The federal employee stalked around the courtroom, shuffling papers and occasionally muttering disapproval at a late arrival.

Dozens of soon-to-be American citizens waited for the naturalization ceremony to begin. They sat on hard courtroom benches, their paperwork done, all their coursework completed. In moments they would raise their right hands, take an oath and become this nation’s newest citizens.

“I’ve heard it said that if you don’t vote, you can’t complain,” the federal employee intoned. “Makes sense.”

California’s Secretary of State Alex Padilla may not have said those words this week to Nevada Un-ion High School students, but the message was there all the same. We have the power and responsibility to choose our leaders at regular intervals at the ballot box. We need to act on that responsibility.

This milestone — 18 years of age — is more important than the markers that grant people driver’s licenses … The age of 18 grants all citizens the right to elect their leaders.

No complaining required.

Plenty of states still struggle with access to the polls. Partisans in some areas have argued that no additional early voting days are needed, claiming unnecessary additional costs make them burdensome. They strive for more stringent voter ID laws in their attempts to stop the specter of unregistered voters casting a ballot.

Here in California we’re taking the opposite track and making it easier to vote. Padilla told those students that eligible 16- and 17-year-olds can pre-register to vote. That means when they turn 18, they’re automatically a registered voter.

This milestone — 18 years of age — is more important than the markers that grant people driver’s licenses (16), the legal purchase of cigarettes (21) or the ability to saddle up to a poker table (18 or 21, depending on where you gamble). The age of 18 grants all citizens the right to elect their leaders.

And much like our muscles, this right needs regular exercise.

As Padilla noted, 18- to 25-year-olds are this state’s biggest voting bloc. Imagine if this age group voted as religiously as retirees. What shape would our county, state and nation take if that occurred?

Do they want to find out?

We should continue to make access to voting easier and encourage people to use that right. Nevada County already has taken steps to do just that. As part of a pilot program all voters in this county will get a vote- by-mail ballot sent to them. We’ll fill them out, drop them in the mail or at designated spots. Or we can still vote in person at one of the new vote centers that will replace precincts.

Additionally, there’s a new law that will let people register on election day at one of these vote centers.

Picture that — an unregistered 18-year-old arriving at a vote center on election day. That person registers to vote on the spot and casts his or her first ballot within moments, participating in a fundamental act that helps make our country an amazing place to live.

No complaints here.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.

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