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Why the youth vote in the midterms matters

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Young adults and voting: you’ve seen the numbers, you’ve heard the statistics, you know the situation. 18-29-year-olds don’t go to the polls nearly as much as they should. Only 50% of the nation’s eligible young people (about 24 million youth) voted in the 2016 election, according to CIRCLE’s post-election estimate.

There has always been a fairly significant]nt deficit between young adults voters and voters over 30 – for example, in the 2008 general election, only 51% of the 18-29 age group voted in comparison to a 67% turnout of eligible voters over 30, according to the US Census Bureau.  

Oregon is definitely one of the more advanced states in terms of voting accessibility – we have mail-in ballots, which have been proven to increase voter participation, as well as a relatively new statewide Automatic Voter Registration system. Being the first in the nation, our new AVR system returned the highest youth voter turnout Oregon has ever seen, according to Oregon Live.

Even though young adults are registered to vote, though, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are actively participating in elections. Again, the 2008 election proves that only 84% of registered young adults voted, while 91% of the 30+ crowd cast a ballot, according to the US Census Bureau.

Registering to vote is such a vital thing, not only for young adults but for teenagers as well. Registering to vote is an opportunity teenagers gain at 16 years old: this is a great opportunity for high schoolers to begin to think about how they want to use their voice.

While many teenagers won’t get the opportunity to vote in this year’s midterms, some high school seniors and recent graduates will have their first opportunity to give their input on some of Oregon’s local and statewide issues.

Voters will have the chance to cast their ballots for governor, as well as 5 important ballot measures. Measure 102 would remove restrictions that affordable housing projects funded by the city or state must be government owned, Measure 103 would ban taxes on groceries, Measure 104 would require a supermajority for more bills in Oregon, Measure 105 would repeal the sanctuary state law initiative, and Measure 106 would prohibit public funds from being spent on abortions.

Having young people give their input on these issues is so vital to our democracy. When millenials remain quiet on these important issues that affect everyone, we miss out on the voices of so many. Turning out to vote is something that everyone 18 and older can and should do.

Oregon makes it so easy to cote. Having AVR as well as mail in voting takes away a huge burden that other states unnecessarily put on voters. There really is not a great excuse to not make your voice heard on issues that affect your future.

Being politically active as a teenager is something I am proud of. I have registered to vote, taken part in various demonstrations and written to my representatives about issues I care about.


About the Writer
Aly Johnston, Editor-in-Chief

Alyson Johnston is a junior at Wilsonville High School. She currently holds the position of Editor-in-Chief of The Paw Print, Wilsonville’s student-run...

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