Whether it’s walking around campus or scrolling through social media, America’s emphasis on ensuring young adults are able and registered to vote has been heard loud and clear as we inch closer and closer to the midterm election. Every weekday for a couple of weeks now on campus, you have about five to ten people patrolling our campus in hopes of finding people who haven’t registered to vote. But at what point is it overbearing, and at what point do we ask them to back off?
We won’t know for sure until after the midterms and statistics come out reflecting who came out to vote. Personally, I didn’t know that I wasn’t registered to vote when I was 18 and there weren’t any elections at the time. So I guess I would be the target audience the workers around campus would be looking for. I ended up fixing my voter registration before this semester, but I still get asked daily if I’m registered. Yes, it’s easy to get annoyed by it, but I know they don’t know if I’m registered and it’s for a more significant cause.
A lot of people probably share this sentiment on campus, and I want you to know that you’re not alone in thinking that it’s annoying. But it’s not like the pressure to register and vote is just on campus. It’s promoted when you’re shopping, watching TV, on YouTube, on social media and everywhere else.
Let’s look at why this is the case. America is at a very vulnerable point right now. Who we elect in November will have a significant impact on the laws and policies that affect not only us in West Chester, but the entire country. Some pre-election statistics are out as well in our state; CNN’s Ethan Cohen and Melissa Holzberg DePalo report about the election “…in Pennsylvania, which is host to competitive governor and Senate races. There, white voters make up a larger share of those who have returned ballots compared to this point in 2020 (Catalist doesn’t have data for Pennsylvania in 2018). So far, 91% of returned ballots are from white Pennsylvanians; that’s up from 79% at this point of the cycle in 2020. And black voters in the Keystone State have only returned 5% of ballots so far in 2022; two years ago, they’d returned 15%.”
Mail-in ballots are another option to entice people to vote, but their target audience is not young people who could go to the polls themselves. But you are in college, so that might potentially be an option for you if you can’t figure out how to go to a polling place. If you feel pressured to vote, a good way to relieve some of that stress is to get some opinions from people who are around your age.
The New York Times (N.Y.T.) did some research on 12 young voters and how they feel about the upcoming election. N.Y.T. reports, “…voters younger than 30 planned to support a Democrat for Congress by a 12-point margin in next month’s elections, compared with a narrow advantage for Republicans among likely voters at large. But compared with older generations, they were less likely to say they would vote at all.”
Of the 12 young voters interviewed, two of them were from our area. Jake Heller and Kish Williams, both from Philadelphia, described in detail how they feel compelled to vote on issues that directly impact themselves and their communities. The first ”Jake Heller, 26, of Philadelphia, is a registered Democrat who works as a cheesemonger at Reading Terminal Market. ‘What issues are most important to me? Probably the classics: abortion, you know, bodily autonomy, the environment, and I’d say gun regulation.’ On abortion rights: ‘I think it’s important to kind of be on the forefront of voting for that and just having a strong opinion on that. And that’s just kind of how I was raised.’”
Second, “Kish Williams, 25, of Philadelphia, who works as a dog handler and supervisor, is not affiliated with a party. ‘I know everyone’s, you know, talking about L.G.B.T. politics, trans rights, trans issues, trans protection, and trans medication, and, being a trans individual myself, that’s a concern for me. And also, for Philadelphia specifically, I’m really interested in seeing what people are doing with the food and homelessness crisis we’re having right now.’”
Hopefully, this has given you some insight into what your peers are thinking; voting is one of the most important ways for our voices to be heard, and we should not hesitate to use it when the time comes.
Isaiah Ireland is a fourth-year Media and Culture major. IL978280@wcupa.edu.