Inspired by events, seniors start registering to vote

March 20, 2018 — by Rahul Vadlakonda

On the morning of March 13, senior Nate Wire was scanning through the news when he saw reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired by President Trump. Stunned, he messaged his friends to tell them the news.

“I was like, ‘what,’” Wire said. “I was totally surprised.”

Wire starts most of his mornings reading the news, and he and his friend senior Arun Ramakrishna pre-registered to vote for the 2018 midterm elections as soon as they were eligible.

For Ramakrishna, the decision to pre-register was an easy one. “I want to vote because it is a way for me to voice my political opinions, especially considering California has referendums on certain bills,” Ramakrishna said.

But Ramakrishna and Wire are registering to vote at a time when political engagement — especially youth political engagement — is declining. According to a 2016 survey from the Pew Research Center, just 46 percent of eligible Millennials voted in the 2012 election. Though the number increased in the 2016 election, voter participation among Millennials still remains low.

Wire, who turned 18 in early March, registered on the day of his birthday; Ramakrishna, who isn’t 18, pre-registered online — and he will automatically be registered as soon as he is eligible.  

Ramakrishna said he pre-registered in order to avoid going through the same process during college in the fall, when he turns 18.

As an increasing number of young voters register to vote, the political climate is seen to be quickly changing, something Government teacher Kirk Abe is seeing.

“Every day there is something happening,” he said. “Students are being more aware of major shifts happening and seeing how they affect them.”

Events such as the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., are the types of events Abe said are a driving force for the country’s youth wanting to participate. He said that the recent tragedy in Parkland has attained the reputation of a “game changer,” as Florida — a state that has a history of opposing stricter regulations concerning guns — has passed stricter gun laws as a result of the recent shootings.

As youth voting registration increases, so does the presence of female voting registrations. A Census Bureau study found that voting registration among unmarried woman was found to be 56.8 million voters in 2014, a 29 million increase from the amount of voters in 1978.

While the number of female voters are increasing since then, new voters such as senior Kate Bossi have signed up.

Bossi said that she too registered to vote in light of the upcoming midterms elections.

“I registered to vote because I know how important voting is,” she said.

For Bossi, voting symbolizes the right the “voice [her] opinion and have a say for what is happening in the government,” something which she says she has been waiting for.

In addition to letting her voice have representation in the government, she said that younger people abstaining from voting is something that may be due to a toxic mindset that makes them think their vote is insignificant. If this problem were to be solved — meaning there would be an increased amount of youth participation — she is confident that elections could end up having different results.

For his part, Wire lamented the declining political participation.

“I don’t think it’s responsible — everybody has a civic duty to vote or at least be aware of what’s going on,” Wire said. “You don’t have to understand everything — I honestly don’t — but you should at least try.”

 

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