Winner: Ben Brewster


Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Rutland, VT, VT


In 1996 the Vermont Legislature adopted the most comprehensive and aggressive campaign finance law in the nation. The law limited campaign contributions to candidates, PACs and political parties, it defined and limited related expenditures on behalf of candidates, it limited out of state contributions and set limits on candidate spending. The law also included a public finance provision for candidates for governor and lieutenant governor. Some of the law’s provisions were adopted with the express intent of challenging restrictive readings of United States Supreme Court precedent Buckley v. Valeo, and as expected a court case followed. On August 10, 2000, the Vermont Federal District Court struck some of the provisions of the law as unconstitutional. See Landell et al v. Sorrell et al, Docket No. 2:00-cv-146. (The decision is available at http://www.vtb.uscourts.gov). That case was appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and a three judge panel overturned the lower court decision and reinstated much of Vermont's law. (The decision is available through the Secretary of State's website's election page www.sec.state.vt.us). Should government be allowed to place limits on how much money candidates and their supporters spend on their campaigns?

The Importance of Voting to Democracy
By Ben Brewster

The Importance of Voting to Democracy

Voting isn’t just important to Democracy.  Voting is Democracy.  You can’t have a successfully run democratic system without the support and votes of the citizens.  The definition of a democracy even has voting in it.  A democracy is a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.  That is what our fore fathers envisioned for our country.  We went to war for our democracy.  Thousands of Americans fought for our rights, they shed their blood to give us what we have today.

            Voting rights at one point were only given to the rich land owners, and then it was amended and given to men even if they didn’t own property.  Now women can vote and the voting age is 18.  All these things were done to get more people voting.  These things would never have happened if voting was not important.  In the last election fifty percent of eligible voters voted.  It was the highest it’s been for along time.  It’s good to see a high rate of voting, that means people are doing there part in keeping our democracy alive.  Without the votes of the people our democracy would expire.  It would turn into a country run by the people in the white house, senate, congress, and special interest groups.  That wouldn’t make people happy.  In fact our government would become a dictatorship rather than a democracy.  Nobody wants to live in a place run where your thoughts and opinions don’t matter.

            Voting gives the ability for people to express their opinions about the government.  The power lies in our hands when we vote.  We are given a really great opportunity that many people don’t take advantage of.  We are given the opportunity to change what we don’t like and bring about something you do like.  Every vote reassures our democracy and makes it stronger. We can’t allow for it to weaken and disintegrate.  I bet many people couldn’t even imagine living in a place where the people’s opinion doesn’t matter.  I know I can’t.

            Still today only half of all voters take part in voting day.  Many people are angry with the government and don’t care to vote.  Others despise the candidates or don’t believe their vote counts, and don’t have interest in the issues that are up for vote.  No matter what their reasons are they need to vote.  You can’t bicker about the government when you don’t go out and vote and try and change what you are angry about.  It’s you right as an American and it should be taken advantage of.

            Is there any way to get more people to vote?  I think we should do something to get more people voting.  We should make it a law.  We wouldn’t have a problem then.  Every one would vote.  If they didn’t they would get in trouble.  We could also give benefits to the people who do vote.  They could be given a bonus on their tax returns or something.  It could act as some kind of tax right off, like they do to people who give money to charity.  There could also be better representation of things.  Give more of a broad spectrum of different parties for people to be represented by.  That could allow for people to feel like they are represented more accurately and maybe get people more excited to vote.

            Democracy is not possible without the peoples’ vote.  It is has been important since our government was founded and it always will be, as long as people do their duty by taking part in the single and easy process of registering to vote and voting.