2022 midterm election prompts local youth engagement

Democracy begins before 18

As the 2022 midterm election on Nov. 8 grows closer, the effort to get American citizens to vote across the country grows stronger. Although the majority of high school students are unable to vote, there are still many options to participate in civic duties, including helping out with voter registration efforts, voicing opinions to elected leaders and pre-registering to vote.

Acquiring a voter registration form can be completed at most U.S. government services.

One organization that focuses on voter education and registration efforts is the League of Women Voters of Marin County (LWV). With 200 members, the league is one of Marin’s largest nonpartisan political advisory groups. Members can be as young as 16 and membership has expanded to all people, not solely women. The LWV’s president, Ann Wakeley, plays an important role in organizing many events across the county.

“[Youth engagement] is a big effort for the [LWV] throughout the country to engage young people and … to heighten the awareness of young people about how they can and should be civically engaged,” said Wakeley.

Supervisor Katie Rice currently serves as president of the Marin Board of Supervisors, the county’s highest executive, and legislative body. In her position, she hears from all members of Marin’s community including young people. She is hopeful the youth will continue to bring refreshing perspectives to local government and create new passion in the community.

“I think [the youth are] more focused on general, broader community good in the future than many of the adults that come and provide testimony. I find that younger people are not as … self-centered or focused on just a positive outcome for themselves. They’re thinking in a broader community way,” Rice said.

Filling out the online voter registration form, junior Eleanor Lawson pre-registers to vote.

In a county like Marin, with high voter turnout and a fairly high proportion of young people, the youth are an especially important demographic for voter registration efforts. Pamela Cook is a member of the Student Election Ambassadors Program Committee, which aims to get students to educate themselves on voting.

“We’re particularly excited about the youth because Marin [as a] whole has a very high voter registration, but the new people coming up every year are the youth,” Cook said. “We want to focus on providing mechanisms to engage our youth and engage them in the voting and civic process from the very beginning of their education.”
Helping with registration efforts provides yet another opportunity for underaged citizens to use their voices. Programs such as the Student Ambassador initiative help train and provide volunteers with the resources they need to support their local community.

“There is no prohibition … [with] helping in the registration efforts. You do not have to be a registered voter to assist in the kinds of registration drives and activities that this committee and the student ambassadors promote. We’re happy to have students of all ages, even if you are not at a point in which you can actually vote in the upcoming election,” Cook said.

Voter pre-registration is open starting at age 16, either in person or online at https://registertovote.ca.gov/.