During this governor’s race, you saw more and more people going to the voting polls. This race created tension in several states, but for many in Texas, this race is what was going to make or break the way our state runs. The two candidates were the current governor, Greg Abbott who represented the Republican party, and Beto O’Rourke, who represented the Democratic party. In recent years the state has encouraged young people to go out and vote once they’re 18, however people fail to consider that the reason why so many don’t vote may not be because they don’t care, but because they have not been properly informed by their community, family, or school about the issues presented in campaigns.
There needs to be more education on voting on today’s issues.
Oftentimes, a candidate’s website does not always provide the clearest explanations to better inform a young voter. There can be a lot of general facts thrown about or legal jargon that doesn’t make much sense unless you are in a political science course or law school. When people try going to their parents they often find them being told to just go with the candidate their parents favor or to just not vote at all if they don’t understand it. This is not the right approach. As young people who are entering adult life, we are full of curiosity and questions about why something works the way it does or how this one particular issue can affect an entire population. It is because of this that the education system, communities, and families need to educate youth, especially high school students who have just turned eighteen, about the issues that are faced in our political environment today so they can make the best decision they possibly can. This education, much like any other subject, needs to be free of bias and needs to show both sides of the argument so the picture can be clear.
Getting young people to go to the voting polls is not as much of a struggle as it used to be. According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, half of the country’s population from the ages of 18 to 29 voted in the 2020 presidential election, which was an 11% increase from the 2016 presidential election. You are seeing the rise in students posting “I Voted” stickers, proud and enthusiastic about exercising one of their fundamental rights. But what about those who don’t vote? There are some who do not want to, however, there are many that have the desire to vote, but are not aware of everything they’re voting about. If people continue to vote without having a deep understanding of voting criteria, our society will only harness a narrative of ignorance. You will then have people in office making decisions that are not what voters expected, or wanted. This fuels a dissonance between that public official and the public, which in turn harms the life of our democracy.
It’s good to have an interest in societal affairs because that’s what creates non-profit organizations, and student-led activities that are used to better their communities. An example of this would be MOVE Texas. This is a non-profit organization that was founded by a group of students at UTSA in 2013. They are now working in multiple locations around Texas. The goal is to get more people involved in elections, especially their peers and classmates. They seek to educate people on vital issues within our society and how these things could affect everyday lives. They provide as much information as they can to make sure students and youth are as informed as possible and have all the facts they need about the campaigns being launched and the criteria that each candidate is advocating for.
The phrase “The children are our future”, is often overused for so many things, however, it is true. If you want us to make informed decisions and contribute to society in meaningful ways, then help us learn about the society we’re contributing to. Schools can hold a voting information day for any students who want to receive information on the criteria mentioned in campaigns, and can especially be focused on seniors who have turned 18. Don’t just leave students to look at posts or websites, because many of us want to be involved, and education systems are the best way for us to reach out.
We are the future politicians, doctors, attorneys, activists, reporters, and artists. We are stuck having to repair what generations before us damaged. If there is to be real change implemented, it all starts with knowledge and learning. It starts with schools making sure teens know what they’re voting about and asking what students would like to see about supporting young voters. All young people are asking for, is that there will be a day when students do not have to fight education systems in order to learn and exercise their natural rights.