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A Question for Students: Why Is Voting So Important?

Winners of the statewide "Right to Vote" summer essay contest will be announced in September during Patriot Week.

How would you describe the importance of voting in America? Could you explain it in 400 words or less?

Students statewide will have a chance to answer this question in the "Right to Vote" essay contest: "How does a citizen's right to vote help make America the greatest country in the world?"

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Michael Warren launched the contest July 3.

"We really want to encourage young people to look at what makes America great, our founding principles, and how the right to vote - to make your voice heard - is so critical to maintaining our freedoms," Johnson said.

Contest winners receive a certificate of recognition, a patriotic-themed gift and will be announced Sept. 11 to 17 during "Patriot Week."

Patriot Week was co-founded by Warren and his 13-year-old daughter, Leah, in 2009 as a means of celebrating America's core principles and history in a meaningful way. It's gaining steam around the state and country, and is anchored by two key dates: Sept. 11, the anniversary of the terrorist attacks, and Sept. 17, the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution.

"Secretary of State Ruth Johnson's sponsorship of a Patriot Week essay contest is a great way for our students to learn more about the blessings of liberty," Warren said.  "This is an important step in furthering the cause of Patriot Week and renewing the spirit of America."

Essays, limited to 400 words or less, must include a title and the student's:

  • Name
  • Grade (as of September 2012)
  • Address
  • Contact information (phone and e-mail)

The deadline for submissions is Aug. 10, and essays can be submitted on the Secretary of State's website or mailed to:

Michigan Secretary of State Essay Contest
Office of Communications
Richard H. Austin Building, 4th Floor
430 W. Allegan Street
Lansing, MI 48918

Brendan McGaughey July 17, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Amy, thanks for contributing! Absentee ballots are especially useful for young people who go away to college or the military.
AC July 18, 2012 at 11:51 AM
"The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them." KM
Jeff S. July 18, 2012 at 02:05 PM
This essay is simple. I can do it in one sentence: "If you don't vote, you may end up with Janice Daniels as your mayor."
Joshua Raymond July 18, 2012 at 03:00 PM
I believe that more important than voting is becoming an informed and educated voter. Don't feel an obligation to vote if you don't know what or who you are voting for. Your obligation then is to either become informed or to not vote. How many elections have been decided because one person has a more "American" last name, is the "right" gender, or has better yard signs? Or perhaps your vote is influenced by your union, church, or social club, but you don't really know what the candidate stands for? Or does your information come from primarily one source that has a bias? If you aren't willing to learn about the issues and candidates, stay home. Let an abstention be your vote. And then research the issues and candidates so that next time you can fulfill your obligation as an informed voter.
Neal Charness July 18, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Not truly learning about the candidates and the issues leaves you susceptible to 30 second sound bites and attack adds along with the adds from the groups like Americans For Prosperity which try to influence your vote while allegedly not being run by a candidate or party. I hate to see people not vote--it's a huge responsibility that we shouldn't duck. The special interests count on people not voting because of the attack ads--don't let them win.

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