THEY SHALL NOT BE DENIED
Hartford High Seniors Cast Their First Votes
Jack Heller, Matthew Lucke, and Julia Nulty were all born in 1998; Jack in Washington, DC, and Matthew and Julia across the river in Lebanon hospitals. All three Hartford High School seniors had reached the age of 18 as of Tuesday, allowing them to register and vote for the first time by Australian Ballot at the Hartford Town and School District Annual Meetings.
Julia initially registered to vote when renewing her license at Vermont DMV in February, but her name wasn't on the town check-list when she attempted to sign in Tuesday morning. The polling volunteer shared the situation with Town Clerk Beth Hill, who smiled knowingly and steered Julia toward the new voter registration table. Jack and Matthew were already there swearing and affirming their age, citizenship, and residency, in writing. The new voters had to provide their Vermont Driver's License identification numbers, but none had to show an actual physical license. They took the Voter's Oath - in which one swears "that whenever you give your vote... you will do it so as in your conscience you shall judge will most conduce to the best good of the same" - by checking a box. The form reminded them, prior to signing, that they were subject to an up to $10,000 fine and not more than 15 years imprisonment if they had not been truthful. Registrations complete, they received their first ballots and partially disappeared behind red, white and blue curtains to cast their first votes.
"I felt strongly about the school budget and the appropriation for the parking lot," said Jack. "I didn't prep very much on voting but I try to stay up to date on what's going on." When asked if any of the budget numbers or appropriations gave him pause, Jack responded, "Nothing really stood out to me as surprising."
Julia says she prepped for voting by discussing the candidates and issues, like VNA funding and the bond proposal, with her mother and her close friend, Abby Robbins. "My mom and Abby are both pretty political and usually on opposite sides. But they're both practical and I think mean well," said Julia. She wished there were more candidates for School Board, and stated that "Although the parking lot isn't great, it's not horrible. We don't need to spend that much money on it."
It was the 26th Amendment, passed by Congress on March 23, 1971, and ratified on July 1, 1971, that gave eighteen years-olds the right to vote in both federal and state elections. It changed a portion of the 14th Amendment, and reads as follows:
SECTION 1: The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
SECTION 2: The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
(Julia Nulty is the author's daughter)
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