In yesterday’s post we announced the 10 winners of our essay contest and summarized two of the students’ work: Ulises Bucio and Amber Carrington. We’ll be featuring 2 more students today.
But first, let’s talk about youth participation at the Iowa caucuses. CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement), reported out some preliminary numbers today. The group estimates 11 percent of eligible young Iowans participated in the caucuses, and they made up 15 percent of total caucus-goers. These numbers may seem small, but they show that when youth participate, they can influence election results. For example, many people are speculating that the close Democratic results in Iowa are in part due to young voter turnout. Among 17-29 year old citizens, 84 percent indicated they supported Bernie Sanders and just 14 percent supported Hillary Clinton. It doesn’t take much of a leap to assume that young voter turnout affected those results in some way.
Want to see young people in action? LegiSchool recommends viewing the next caucus or primary through the Snapchat app – where people can stream their stories instantly.
And with that, let’s turn our attention to two more of our winners:
Ana Paola Rubio, Academy of Our Lady of Peace
In addressing how to get more young people involved in voting, Ana identifies a core place where the solution must begin: schools. And while many of our essayists identified schools as part of the solution, Ana emphasizes a unique facet of focusing on informal school-based activities rather than classroom-based activities. For example, she believes that “every school, especially high schools, should create a voting club where passionate students can publicize the benefits of voting in creative ways”. In other words, don’t sell the importance of voting from the top down…let the students teach one another, and incite interest from the ground up. Additionally, Ana suggests investing in technological platforms that connect with younger generations. Her idea is to create a voting app that provides election dates, names of candidates and their platforms, videos and election-based news…all in one place and in an easy to understand format. Through these solutions, Ana believes that we can help make voting interesting and relevant to students once again.
Cameron Elliott, Valhalla High School
Cameron believes young people do not vote because they have lost faith in their government. Additionally, he notes that many of his peers do not feel that candidates are willing or able to execute the promises they made during their campaigns. As a result, many young people feel, in his words, “disenfranchised” and they do not believe the risk of voting is worth the reward. He stresses, however, that this does not mean voting is unimportant to him or his peers. Rather, youth no longer believe, or connect with the system of government we have in place. His solution? Abolish the electoral college and implement online voting. In doing this, you will give young people “more incentive to vote and hopefully establish the habit of voting at a young age”. By connecting young people directly with the democratic process, and by increasing access to our elections, he believes we can show students that the risk of voting, is worth the reward.