If you are 18 years of age, older, or soon to be 18 it is time for you to learn a little about the voting process, but don’t fret, on the 21st of this month, Billy Zeng, Alexandria Onuoha, and several high school students are holding a political youth forum to talk about the upcoming city council elections.
Why is voting so important? Many people believe that their singular vote is meaningless compared to the millions of average voters each election. However, elections are often closer than one might think. For example, the 2000s presidential election came down to who won Florida’s electoral votes. In the end, George Bush won over Al Gore by 537 votes. If 538 more voters in favor of Al Gore had voted, the US could have had an entirely different president from 2000 to 2008. In addition, local elections such as those for the school council and councilor-at-large positions are decided by a significantly smaller number of people and are still “really important,” according to one of the forum managers, Ketshaly Philome.
In the 2020 presidential election, 11% more voters aged 18-29 voted than in the 2016 election. However, an 11% increase still only means 50% of potential young voters are voting. Compare this to the 76% of citizens aged 65-74, and it becomes clear that young people are under-represented in political affairs.
Another reason to vote earlier rather than later is that research shows that voting is a habit and is formed over time. Meaning people who vote as soon they can are more likely to vote later in life.
For those who are confused by the voting process, the youth organizers are here to help.. The political forum is meant to educate and inform potential voters on the upcoming local election happening on the second of November. The forum will cover all wards. However, the forum will not be covering at-large positions.
To start the forum, some of the managers will introduce themselves and the event and state a land acknowledgement. Next, all of the participants will play a round of Kahoot specially designed for the event to be informative and fun. Near the end of the meeting, participants will be given the opportunity to ask certain candidates questions. Asking questions will be a great way to express the ideas that participants care about to the candidates, and it will be a great way to hear their opinions and determine who to vote for (for those over the age of 18). There will be a candidate for each ward except ward 5. For voters who aren’t sure of their ward, refer to the following map.
More information regarding the forum will be posted via flyers posted around the school and social media.
The forum is a great opportunity to learn a little more about local elections and elections in general and to have community voices heard. “[The team behind the event] definitely [wants] as many youth as possible to be engaged with local politics.” said Billy Zeng, one of the lead managers of the forum. The forum will be open to everyone and it is highly encouraged for anyone to go, regardless of age or voting status.
To sign up for the forum, visit bit.ly/maldenyouthforum.