by Mailani McKelvy
November 6th was an important day in the United States because it was midterm elections. Everyone over the age of 18 eligible to vote was able to vote for candidates for local and state representatives as well as the various propositions available. According to an article in The Politico, as of 6:42 EST on November 6th, a staggering 36 million voters had already voted. The amount of voters in this this election was poised to surpass the amount of voters in all states in 2014. There was much more of a focus on voting then in many other elections previously, especially with bold statements by President Donald Trump in support of the Republican party and sweeping efforts by the Democratic party to take to the polls.
There were also many influential figures in the media pushing their fans/followers to vote. However, most these figures’ younger following are not eligible to vote due to their age. This offsets a lot of the participation of young people, and often causes them to think that since they can’t vote, they can’t get involved in other ways. However, there are still ways to get involved with politics even if you couldn’t or didn’t vote.
- Pre Register to vote in the next election. In California, anyone starting at the age of 16 if eligible, can pre register to vote. This is especially important for 17 year olds who will be eligible to vote in the next election (the next presidential election being in 2020). This confirms that you will be prepared to vote in the next-coming election.
- Participate in local government. Is there something in your own community that you think should be changed? If you are interested in more local issues, for example in Morro Bay, try to get involved involved in with the Morro Bay City Council. Keep an ear out for certain issues, and know that there are opportunities to talk about your opinions on issues as a teen in the form of public comment. A schedule for their meetings is available on their website here.
- Be aware. Be well informed with current events. With our smartphones and computers, it’s easier than ever to access news sources and capture current events as they happen. Be sure to know which sources are reliable. If you don’t want to sift through multiple news sources, sign up for something like the daily Skimm here, which summarizes major issues into bite-sized pieces every day and sends it to you in the form of an email.
- Stay vocal. Most importantly, If there is an issue that concerns you, don’t stay silent just because you are not eligible to vote or because you think that your voice won’t be heard. Bring up your concern with people that you know who can vote. Bring it up with authority figures. Post about it on social media. Spread awareness about issues that you feel are important. Although you can’t formally be part of the election process in the form of a voter, you can spread awareness about what you think is important. An example of this most clearly can be seen in the ‘March for Our Lives’ movement, which was organized by students across the country.
It is crucial to maintaining our democracy to stay informed and involved. Remaining stagnant in such a polarized time doesn’t promote change or growth, and even if you are too young to vote, you still are able to get involved by simply being aware. Even if you are happy with the actions being taken now, it doesn’t serve you well to not be well informed, especially since in politics, nothing is permanent. Decisions can be repealed. Definitions can be changed. As the future voters, it’s up to us to make decisions as the future generation.
If you are a young person, don’t feel as if you don’t have the power to speak up about issues. Bridging the gap between the adults who make the decisions regarding important issues and those who eventually will experience the consequences is critical.