It’s important for young people to get out and vote

The greatest thing about our country is that we the people have a say in how our government works.

Despite what seems to be an endless amount of political activity on television and the internet, voting seems to be a right that not enough Upper Peninsula residents take advantage of — but that seems to be changing.

The trend is pretty similar nationwide. The U.S. Census bureau notes that 52% of registered voters across the country cast a ballot in the 2022 elections.

Recent midterm election cycles in Marquette County have also increased, according to an article published in The Mining Journal in November.

There are currently 54,769 registered voters in Marquette County, according to the Michigan Voter Information Center. The number of voters increased to nearly 32,000 in 2022; the 2014 midterm saw nearly 10,000 less, with 22,591. That’s a good sign, because it’s hard to fathom less than half of the county’s registered voters bothered to cast a ballot.

Elections are important, and the upward trend in voter turnout is a great sign. But at the same time, we need to help our next generation of voters take part in the process.

Marquette Senior High School student Lily Dixon pointed out her own statistic in a Mining Journal article published Monday.

She said young people feel they don’t have a say in American politics, but according to a Washington Post statistic, Gen Z and millennials are expected to make up nearly 40% of the U.S. electorate in the 2024 presidential election.

Dixon asked Gov. Gretchen Whitmer how political parties can engage those young voters. Whitmer responded by saying government needs to “level the barriers” that make it harder for young people to vote.

“It wasn’t true in all parts of this country, but in Michigan, young voters made their voices heard and in incredible numbers,” Whitmer said of the 2022 election. “Seeing people on campuses waiting in line because you could actually register and vote all in one day meant it was a little more cumbersome, but they stayed because it was an important election. It was about fundamental rights, it was about climate change, it was about gun violence, it was about good jobs and I think that’s why it’s so important that young people are voting.”

We agree, barriers need to be leveled for all voters. We also note that voters should have the right to choose how and when they vote.

It’s also about educating voters about the difference between fact and opinion, between legitimate information and marketing.

In the short time Dixon was with Whitmer, she was able to get sound advice from an experienced politician and public leader.

Not only did Whitmer encourage younger residents to vote, she also wants that generation to step up to the plate to serve in the political arena.

“Your generation has the biggest at stake. You are going to live with these policies for the longest out of any of us and that’s why you should run for office,” Whitmer said.

In any case, we echo Whitmer’s message to young people to get involved in the political arena in some way — and most importantly, vote. Nobody knows what you want unless you ask for it.

— The Mining Journal, Marquette


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