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Everyone has a reason to vote, say three teen essay winners

Tristan Trudell
Thursday, November 7, 2019

A teen from Long Beach, Wash., and two brothers from Warrenton won top honors in a high school essay contest, “I Will Always Vote.”

The contest was sponsored by Indivisible North Coast Oregon and the Astoria branch of the American Association of University Women.

“All the essays showed that the students are passionate about staying informed and that they understand the importance of participating in the democratic process,” said INCO member Eric Halperin, one of the contest’s organizers.

Tristan Trudell of Long Beach, a senior at Ilwaco High School, won the $250 first place prize.

“A vote is a voice, and with a voice, one has the power to enact change,” Tristan wrote. “To vote is to take yourself and your convictions firmly into account. … (V)oting carries with it an inherent responsibility, almost a duty, to be informed, but you must also consider the impact your vote could have on the people around you.”

Erik Cooley and Forrest Cooley, brothers from Warrenton who are home-schooled, won the second and third prizes, respectively, of $150 and $100. Erik is in 10th grade, and Forrest in 11th.

Erik Cooley, the second-place winner, took an activity from his own life – he and four friends deciding where to eat lunch – and used it as an example for how democracy work.

“One person’s decision to neglect voting would work to the detriment of the entire group, including himself,” he wrote.

“If I do not vote, I am surrendering my basic right as an American citizen to influence how my government treats its people. … When I do not vote, I surrender responsibility for America’s future to others. I am flippantly, disrespectfully neglecting to acknowledge my own ability to do what I believe is right.”

Forrest Cooley wrote about tyranny and how it could rise again.

“I will vote because it is the best way to keep America free,” he wrote. “I could choose to believe that my vote is insignificant, but that would mean taking for granted the fact that there are billions of people around the world who are unable to fully participate in their government.” The winning essays are posted at

Erik Cooley

Forrest Cooley

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