“Why Bother to Vote?” Student Writing Lesson

Is not voting a responsible option in a presidential election? Weigh in with your argument.

Students will read and respond to the YES! Magazine article, “5 Reasons to Vote Even When You Hate Everything on the Ballot.”

In this article, journalist and millennial Yessenia Funes shares her opinion on why it’s important to vote—even if you hate everything on the ballot. Funes points out what’s at stake, especially for those groups who vote the least, and options if you are dissatisfied with the slate of candidates.

Download lesson as a PDF.

YES! Magazine Article and Writing Prompt

Read the YES! Magazine article by Yessenia Funes,  “5 Reasons to Vote Even When You Hate Everything on the Ballot.”

Writing Prompt:

Favorability ratings for presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are at a historic low. Some people say they’re not going to vote because there’s no one on the ballot who deserves their vote, so why bother?

Students, please respond to the writing prompt below with an up-to-700-word essay:
Is not voting a responsible option in a presidential election? Weigh in with your argument.

You might consider these two questions when organizing your argument:
• What should you do if you hate the choices on the ballot?
• Go back to the article. Does the author have it right—or wrong—on why you should vote?

Writing Guidelines

The writing guidelines below are intended to be just that—a guide. Please adapt to fit your curriculum.

  • Provide an original essay title
  • Reference the article
  • Limit the essay to no more than 700 words
  • Pay attention to grammar and organization
  • Be original. provide personal examples and insights
  • Demonstrate clarity of content and ideas
  • This writing exercise meets several Common Core State Standards for grades 6-12, including W. 9-10.3 and W. 9-10.14 for Writing, and RI. 9-10 and RI. 9-10.2 for Reading: Informational Text.*

*This standard applies to other grade levels. “9-10” is used as an examples.

Evaluation Rubric

Sample Essays

The essays below were selected as winners for the Fall 2016 Student Writing Competition. Please use them as sample essays or mentor text. The ideas, structure, and writing style of these essays may provide inspiration for your own students’ writing—and an excellent platform for analysis and discussion.

Your Voice, Your Vote,” by Red Sheets, grade 8
Read Red’s essay, Your Voice, Your Vote,” about how a vote isn’t just for a person, but also for an idea, a policy, and, even, your integrity.

Make a Choice,” by Catherine Skubiz, grade 11
Read Catherine’s essay, “Make a Choice,” about how time and time again voters have proven that when we make the choice to vote, we give ourselves the power to change the nation.

“The Voting Superhero” by Ben Marcus, college freshman
Read Ben’s essay, “The Voting Superhero,” about how we may not be able to fly or have an arsenal of high-tech crime-fighting tools, but we do have the power to vote.

“With Great Asians Comes Great Responsibility,” by Tyler Kim, grade 11
Read Tyler’s essay, “With Great Asians Comes Great Responsibility,” about how some of the same people who urge us to vote are the same people who neglect what should be their real responsibility—caring about people on the margins.

“A Vote for the Voiceless,” by Norbu Sonam, grade 11
Read Norbu’s essay, “A Voice for the Voiceless,” about how his father’s treacherous escape from Tibet to America in 1949 shaped his appreciation for the rights—like voting— that Americans have today.

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