Growing Civic Engagement Among Young Voters, One Vote At A Time


The importance of participating in the political process can never be overstated. This is especially true when it comes to the fundamental principal of our democracy, the vote. Election cycle after election cycle we have to remind people of this civic responsibility and younger voters are no exception. Motivating young people to become involved in the political process and exercising their right to vote can be challenging, yet it is critical in sustaining an educated and aware electorate. People must understand the power they possess to influence the direction of government at all levels – federal, state and local.

For younger people, an understanding of the political process should first happen at the local level; this is where they can see government at work, affecting their everyday lives. Participating in local government (i.e., voting, issue advocacy) is sometimes overshadowed by the allure of state and national politics and elections. Truthfully, even I at 18 was concerned only in voting in the next presidential election, and failed to pay attention to the local issues, which had the most immediate impact on my life.

There is an election every year in Virginia so there is always an opportunity to get younger people involved. However, getting them off to an early start through engagement in the local community is key. This will provide them a case study in governance and political action that will make them more consistent and educated voters, no matter their political leaning. The objective is to get younger people involved earlier in an attempt to increase the likelihood of their sustained engagement in the political process. Voter apathy and fatigue are real, but measures can be taken to avert catastrophic drop off in voter turn out, especially among the younger demographics. As with most things, exposure and education is the answer. Let us make it our task to encourage the engagement of younger voters in local government – voting, issue advocacy, campaigning, etc. Not only will they become more consistent and educated voters, they will also be more prepared to take on the leadership roles of local elected office.

Editor's Note: Representatives from both the Alexandria Young Republicans and Alexandria Young Democrats organizations were asked to contribute a blog post addressing the importance of voting as a form of civic engagement for young voters. Kevin Bailey, president of the Alexandria Young Democrats found the time during this busy election season to respond.

Comments

Great post! I look forward to hearing more from this gentleman.

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