2018 I Will Vote Essay Contest

Sponsored by Indivisible North Coast Oregon (INCO) and 
the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Astoria and Seaside chapters  

First Place | $250 prize

Julie Foss, Astoria High School 

No matter where I am, who is running, or what the position is, I will always vote. I will always mail my ballot in or go to the nearest voting booth because my voice is a unique one nobody else has. Not a single other person in this country articulates their thoughts the same way to formulate opinions the way I do; not one person has experienced the same challenges to help form opinions of importance.

My life is unique, and therefore my vote is a reflection of what I find important. As a child of a US Coast Guard member, I acknowledge and respect service members for their sacrifice. Not only has my dad sacrificed parts of his life, but I have as well. As a first generation Egyptian-American, I also have connection to an entire spectrum of experiences that are quite different than just being connected to the military. I have watched Islam, my religion, be persecuted by people who claim to hold American values. I understand and sympathize with immigrants of all kinds because these are the experiences of my mom and grandparents. That is why I will always vote: to support candidates who want to see equality and support for all people in this country. My vote reflects a multi-leveled spectrum of opinions, and what I have to say is important to create a balanced America.

Another reason I will always vote is my passion for equal healthcare. Four years ago, I had a twelve-hour spinal surgery to position spinal rods in order to straighten drastic curvatures. Having scoliosis and going through that experience has caused me to find all healthcare issues of extreme importance. I realize that medical situations can affect one’s life when least expected, and I find it important to vote someone in who pushes an agenda that includes equal access to healthcare.  I was fortunate enough to receive care at a children's hospital that covered all costs for families, but not everyone is in a similar situation.

I represent a unique and diverse demographic that includes race, religion, family lifestyle, and medical situations. My opinions on voting reflect that as well. I will always vote to make sure my voice is represented, that I vote for someone who strives to improve diversity. Everyone has different experiences, good and bad, that shape the way they think, and I will always vote for someone who realizes that.

Second Place | $150 prize

Travis Popkin, Naselle – Grays River Valley School 

Holocaust survivor Kurt Messerschmidt once said, “Some of the people disapproved. But their disapproval was only silence, and the silence is what did the harm.” Even though this quote is about the Holocaust, I still see meaning in it today. Looking around, there are plenty of people who don’t like the way our country is being run. But many of these people didn’t even cast a vote! How can they expect change if they aren’t using the resources provided?

In November of 1938, Kurt Messerschmidt woke up to find that his whole country hated him. As he walked around town, he noticed some Nazi officers forcing a man to pick up shards of glass off the ground. He began to help the old man. He could see the looks of sadness and disapproval on people’s faces, but they said nothing. And as his quote states, the silence is what did the harm. Could the terrible acts against the Jews in 1938 and after have been mitigated if people had said something? This we will never know because those who stayed silent never stood up to the dictator leading their country.

So, my vote matters because without it we become weak. This country is built off of the right to vote given to us centuries ago by our first veterans. My vote matters because it is an opportunity and a privilege that I can’t turn down. If you don’t like the way things are going right now, your vote can help to change that. So, next time your community, county, state, and country need your vote, stand up and give it. Strengthen our foundation and secure our rights for everyone who will ever live in this great nation of ours. Don’t let silence be the killer. Don’t let silence take away what we know as rights. Because if you raise your voice, others will, too, and the change you’ve always wanted can become reality.

So, I must be that voice that stands out in a sea of indecision. I must be the call to arms which stops dictatorship in its tracks. And most of all, I will be helpful and kind to all, no matter who they are so that I, too, get cuts on my hands from picking up the glass. And hopefully, others will join me until there is no glass left, and no pain. Join me and raise your voice to create change for the better, and maybe, just maybe, the future will be even better than we could ever have imagined, and the past’s mistakes not in vain.  So, I will vote.

Third Place | $100 prize

Maggie Blaser, Astoria High School 

In a time where many feel powerless, when it may feel as though the country is regressing briskly backwards, it can be hard to stay positive. When it feels as though the current politics are worsening day by day, it is important to look at the bigger picture. We have the power to make it; we have the power to decide.

Participation is an integral part in keeping our country a fair and just democracy, for now and for the decades that follow. In a couple of years, I, and many other students and children of my generation, will be able to vote. In the past few years, we have witnessed one of the most outlandish and unconventional US presidential elections while simultaneously taking our US History and Government classes at school. Many of us have participated in nationwide school walkouts and protests. Even today I can still feel the momentous power emanating from the Women’s March that I attended in Portland on January 21, 2017.

Although I cannot vote now, from what has occurred since our last election, I have seen that widespread participation is crucial to making a drastic positive difference in our society, for now and for the future. When I am eventually able to vote, I will not hesitate, as it is an important aspect of ensuring that I can do my part in creating the best possible future for all.         

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