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I missed my first chance to vote, but it won’t happen again

A London polling place an a voting advertisement. (Photo illustration. Anjola Fashawe/YJI)

LONDON – As an 18-year-old entering the adult world, the weight of decision making has never felt so important. I feel school failed to prepare me for this new responsibility by leaving out crucial lessons on voting.  

After registering to vote for the London mayoral elections, I was disappointed to learn that I had missed the deadline to participate by just a few days. This missed opportunity left me feeling underprepared and guilty for not making my voice heard. 

Now that I have the power to vote, the decisions I make will directly impact me and others. But the choices presented in the voting world can feel limited, like a black and white decision between Labour and the Conservatives, which often is painted as choosing the lesser of two evils. 

But what about the other parties I may align with, such as the Green Party? Their advocacy for free public transport for those under 22, affordable council housing, and free school meals for secondary students resonates with me and could have a significant impact on my life or my younger sister’s.  

Despite trying to educate myself by watching debates on news programs such as ITV to learn about the mayoral candidates, the distraction of exams has made it easy to forget about the upcoming election.  

The mayor of London is crucial as they oversee important aspects such as public transport, affordable housing, and improving the lives of young people – issues that directly affect me and other young people. 

When talking with my friends, I was shocked to find that many were unaware that a mayoral election was even taking place, viewing it as a joke. One of them mentioned giving their vote to Count Binface, a satirical candidate.  

This made me reflect on the importance of understanding the impact of my vote and not wasting it on a candidate who most likely doesn’t stand a chance compared to the other candidates. 

Despite feeling as though I may have wasted a vote in this election, I am determined to learn from this experience and make sure to not make the same mistake in the upcoming general elections.  

Anjola Fashawe is a Senior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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