Government in the hands of the next generation

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Voter pre-registration is an event at Washington High School that guides the next wave of young adults to help make changes to their government. Due to the importance of voting, especially with the 2024 elections in November, it’s crucial to educate citizens about how the process works. Pre-registration can essentially be considered a rite of passage to adulthood, as it shapes the future and changes the way the world operates. 

In Washington, this process is set forth by three organizations. First, GenerationUp Fremont, a student-led non-profit organization, recruits and trains a team of students from Washington to lead the presentation. Second, the League of Women Voters, a 120-year-old non-partisan voter’s rights advocacy group, handles the logistics and administrative approval. Last, the Youth Voter Movement, a project from the League of Women Voters devoted to empowering the Youth Vote, helps with certain logistics. Together, these organizations work alongside Washington High School students to host a pre-registration drive every other year for seniors and juniors during their social science classes. This event includes a presentation on the importance of voting, the process of pre-registering, and the know-how of voting as an adult. Although the information is important for all students, the actual pre-registration is only for students who are eligible to vote. These requirements include being a U.S. citizen, meeting state residency, and being at least 16 years old. The process of pre-registering consists of filling out a paper form with the student’s details and submitting it to the Register of Voters. Students keep a strip of paper with their form ID which they can later use to check their registration status online. Once this process is complete, they are mailed a ballot by the next election when they are of age to vote. This drive follows strict adherence to laws and regulations, being explicitly non-partisan to eliminate influencing students’ political views and affiliations. The sole purpose of this drive is to educate the youth on the importance of voting and to encourage them to vote.

This year, many of Washington’s seniors and juniors have pre-registered to vote. Many of these students may not be aware of political issues or care much about them simply because they are not involved with them directly. However, Mr. Block, an APUSH and Gov/Econ teacher at Washington, expresses his belief that “the more students learn about politics the more they become convinced that it’s important to participate and that they can exercise some degree of influence.” He shares his views on how voting is important even on the level of local elections. These elections, especially, have an impact on one’s day-to-day life, whereas the effects of Presidential elections may not be as direct. Whether these changes are instant or long-term, they both heavily influence the lives of voters and others. 

Evan Dang, the student leader of these district-wide voter preregistration drives believes that “students have a lot of ideas about what they want to change in society, but often don’t know how to research and vote on topics they care about.” However, he explains how the “youth are very active in society and use platforms such as social media to express their opinions.” Most teenagers today utilize social media as a voice and spread education by starting movements. Despite many of the youth not having learned the importance of voting, they are ever so ready to lead the world and have aspirations to make changes through social media, something many are well-versed in. This shows how leadership evolved and can be expressed through new forms, portraying a changing world. Overall, taking responsibility to investigate candidates and issues we care about – as the youth vote – can empower us to affect the change we want to see in the communities in which we live.

Deepthi moved to Fremont at the age of three and has grown up there for the most part. Despite her junior year being her first year at the paper, she has always been interested in writing, often creating stories and hooks for fun. Deepthi is interested in social issues but hates the idea of writing about politics. She likes biking, hanging out with her friends, writing, watching TV shows, ice skating, and jamming to music. She is also a dedicated TA to her Sunday school and helps educate little kids on their mother tongue. Growing up, Deepthi hopes to be a pediatrician or ER doctor, something she has dreamed of since she was little.

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