In September, the Oregon Secretary of State reported that 2,924,292 people registered to vote in the state. With the elections approaching, people are rushing to get registered. People are getting pushed by many to register. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, celebrities, and friends are pushing for individuals to not only register, but to vote in the upcoming elections.
Significant attention is being paid to the presidential election. For some who are torn and don’t see a good option in either candidate, they will refrain from voting. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 61 percent of the voting-age population is voting. A little under half did not vote. Had those people voted, there could have been a different result in the 2016 elections. The census bureau also reported that voters between the ages of 18 to 29 were showing an increase of voter turnout between 2012 and ’16. This age group’s turnout grew from 45 percent to 46 percent, but it is still less than half.
While students are taught in government classes about the different political parties and our Republic’s democracy, many young individuals select a party based on their parents’ views and that decision can influence their vote. It is important for first-time voters to learn about the government and the issues of the day as well as the different political parties and what they all stand for, specifically Democrats and Republicans.
While the local election is not getting as much attention, it is just as important as the national election. Rep. Peter DeFazio has been re-elected since 1987. Could this be because DeFazio has done a great job for 33 years or is it because newly registered voters aren’t well-versed in local elections and vote for a familiar name?
A decrease in voter turnout is not only a general election issue, but a primary election issue as well. According to the Secretary of State’s data, there was a 54 percent voter turnout in the 2016 primary elections, but in ’18 voter turnout was 34 percent for the primary election. This is the lowest recorded voter turnout in Oregon for the primary election.
As a first-time voter, I have enjoyed watching the presidential and vice-presidential debates. They have been informative as to what each candidate stands for and what their priority will be if they are elected. It is important to research the national and local candidates so that you are not just voting based on parties, but for the policies each candidate stands for. When I received my first voter’s ballot on Oct. 19, I sat down and looked over the pamphlet and researched each candidate, presidential level and state representatives, before making a decision.
I encourage younger voters to use their social-media skills to learn more about the presidential candidates and vote in the November election. We can’t use the mentality of thinking that our vote won’t matter; each vote matters. We are the generation of the future and our representatives, senators, and president need to reflect what we want to see done. According to the census bureau, millennial voting rates have been slowly increasing since 2012. This needs to continue to happen so we can live in a country we feel represented in.
With the elections being watched very closely, more voters have registered to be a part of this important election. Young voters are using social media to influence their friends and family that registering to vote and casting a vote are important. Voter turnout needs to keep increasing in general and primary elections so that our voices are heard.
Jasmine Aguilar is a Springfield High School graduate attending Bushnell University in Eugene.