Why young people should vote

Why young people should vote

If you care about what happens in your life, go vote!

Editor’s Note: The Empire published a weekly column from the nonpartisan League of Women Voters leading up to this year’s municipal and statewide general election, in the hopes that it will help inform voters about the process. This is the 10th and final column.

Voting can be overwhelming. That said, it’s incredibly important. Our votes determine what will happen in our everyday lives, from the quality of the schools we’re reared in to how safe it is for us to leave our homes at night. That’s why I encourage everyone, especially young people, to vote this Nov. 6.

Rather than share statistics about why it’s important to vote, I will tell you flat out: for a long time, I didn’t understand why I should vote, or what it was. My first memory of voting is of my friend exclaiming “McCain is so old, what if he dies and Sarah Palin becomes president?!” at our elementary school’s mock 2018 presidential election.

My sophomore year of high school, a crowd of Juneau students rallied at the state capitol in response to the coming cuts to school activity funding. My friends talked about how we might be building a road out of Juneau, and we talked often about the implications of climate change in my science classes.

I started to see the connection between voting and current issues. Our votes are what put the people who choose to cut education funding, who choose to build a road out of Juneau, and who choose to take action on climate change in office. Even if you don’t care about any of these issues, the government impacts every facet of our lives. Your ability to find a job, pay rent, attend one of our public universities, and much more are impacted by government. By not voting, we give up the kind of Alaska we want to live in.

This Nov. 6, we’ll be voting for our governor and lt. governor, for our U.S. representative, for our state district’s representative and senator, on a statewide ballot measure, and if we should keep three of our judges on the superior court. To vote, go to your local polling place with a form of ID between 7 a.m.-8 p.m. If you don’t know where your polling place is, log in your personal information at https://myvoterinformation.alaska.gov/. If you’re in Juneau on Election Day, you can vote at Mendenhall Mall, the Juneau Airport, and the State Office Building.

If you’re not able to vote on Tuesday or you want to vote early, you can visit http://www.elections.alaska.gov/Core/avolocations.php to see which polling places will be open for early voting.

If you won’t be near a polling place on Election Day, you can file for an absentee ballot. This is very helpful for college students who are living out of their hometown. An absentee ballot is a ballot the Division of Elections will send you if you can’t be at a local polling station on Election Day. If you want to vote absentee, you will have to fill out and send an absentee application to the Division of Elections. There are three types of absentees that you can file for: mail, which you need to apply for 10 days before Election Day; fax, which you need to apply for before 5 p.m. the day before Election Day; and online delivery, which has the same deadline as a faxed ballot. To find the absentee application, visit http://www.elections.alaska.gov/Core/votingbeforeelectionday.php and click the link with the type of absentee you want.

Deciding who or what to vote for is the most difficult part of voting, but think about what you want to see happen in Alaska and then research which candidates are best equipped to providing what you want. Visit each candidate’s campaign website, sift through voter guides provided by local news outlets and organizations, and talk to people about your choices. This can be a difficult process, but you’ll feel better knowing you voted for what you think is best.

If you care about what happens in your life, go vote! Whether by absentee or by entering the polls on Nov. 6, you’ll be doing the right thing.

• Tasha Elizarde is a current college student involved in local and state civic and government issues and is a member of League of Women Voters Juneau.

• Tasha Elizarde is a current college student involved in local and state civic and government issues and is a member of League of Women Voters Juneau. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.

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