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Now is the time to have a voice on the issues


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  In the wake of the deaths of 17 students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, I have heard many young adults and high school students express their frustration on the inaction of both the state and national Congresses in implementing any plan to prevent more gun violence from occurring in the future. No matter what party we may be a part of, we all have one unifying wish, one goal we hope Congress can implement—do something that will stop these tragic events from ever happening again.

  Yet at the same time, I have noticed the naivety some of these young activists have towards two processes that are an integral part of voicing your thoughts in a constructive manner—registering to vote and contacting your state and national representatives.

  In order to translate my own shock and anger over this event into something more constructive, I wish to give you, the reader, some information that could help you make a contribution to legislative change, whichever way you may swing politically. As The New York Times states on the front of every paper, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”

  Register to vote. You are not, contrary to the belief of some, automatically registered to vote just because you are an American citizen. If you do not register, you cannot vote, regardless of your age. But fear not! With the implementation of online voter registration, you can now register to vote (link) at any time with a driver’s license (or other state ID) and your Social Security number. And underclassmen, I’m talking to you too; citizens can pre-register starting at age 16, meaning they will automatically be registered on their 18th birthday.

  Contact your representative. They will respond. Eventually. Voice your thoughts: they represent you, not the other way around. And besides, you might be voting in their election in the coming months or years. Here’s a link to find your representatives and contact them. I contacted my own state representative, Bob Cortes, who coincidentally is the representative of our school’s district. Our conversation follows:


Me: Hello Mr. Cortes,

     As I recently turned 18, I earned, among other things, the right to vote in elections in this great state and nation. It was a day that I looked forward to not just because I was now an adult in the eyes of the law, but that I could also voice my opinions in a manner that could actually make a difference legislatively.

     The very next day, my joy turned to shock and awe as the town of Parkland reeled from yet another mass shooting, this time at a high school with young adults and children about the same age as me. In the wake of this tragic event, millions of Floridians looked to their state legislature in the hope that another mass shooting would stimulate some change. It appears that we were wrong. You, Mr. Cortes, voted against a motion to hear a bill on assault rifles. You didn’t even give it a chance. Instead of hearing what the other side had to say, you voted along party lines, ignoring the pleas of high school students who watched their friends die.

     I understand you position. All I’m asking is for you to do something, anything, that can prevent such an event from happening again, not just in Florida, but in our great nation.

     You can bet that I’ll be at the polls this November. I hope that I can be on your side.


  Zach Watson

Cortes: Hello Zach

First, let me wish you a happy birthday.

Let me give you what happened today and what we are working on. The vote today came as a complete surprise to all of us on the floor with a procedural motion to hear a bill that has not been vetted by staff in any committee. I would have voted no on any procedural motion for any bill as it does not have the proper committee vetting process we do our legislative work with. Instead it was a ploy to put myself and other members in this tough position for political reasons. Now I can share with you what we are doing. In the next couple of days we will be rolling out a very comprehensive bill related to gun control and safety. One that is being worked on by staff in both chambers with consultation from both parties. I can share some of the ideas being proposed which I will support.

Ban on anyone under 21 from purchasing a weapon including rifles.

Background checks and 3 day waiting period on all guns.

School safety changes which will include funding for security upgrades officers etc.

Mental health funding.

Many other things are being proposed as all of this is still being worked on.

I share your desire to make significant changes and we will have them. Stay tuned and I will share them as soon as they are public.

Talk to you soon.

Best regards

Bob Cortes

Me: That is fantastic to hear. Thank you so much.

Cortes: All I ask is that you give me an opportunity to work for you and others. I will be there for all.

Thank you

Me: I look forward to hearing of future developments.


  Whether or not you agree with anything I said in the above email, I hope you can see the importance of a constituent contacting their congressman and voicing their thoughts. May all your voices be heard.

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Now is the time to have a voice on the issues