Over the past years, political participation from young voters has not been ideal. The Census Bureau reported that only 38% of women and 33% of men between the ages of 18-29 voted in the 2018 midterm election. In New Jersey, students who are 17 and 18 years of age are eligible to register to vote in the 2020 presidential election.
Our AP Government and Politics class, with the help of our teacher Mr. Brian Smith, CSA secretary Mrs. Michele Stamatopoulos, and supervisor of the history department Mrs. Kate Villano, worked to distribute voter registration forms to all eligible Mainland high school students between Sept. 25 and 26. Mr. Smith, when asked about the importance of voting, says, “As a history and government teacher, I think it’s important that students understand the history and the fact that many people made sacrifices to secure that right for us and continue to do so. All people need to recognize that if we just stand and watch, we have no one to blame but ourselves.”
The students in our class rotated shifts in the morning before school, during lunch and during some classes to walk the halls and go into classrooms to get students registered. Many of the new voters were very excited about the process and opportunity they are now given. Senior Dom Gagliardi says, “I like having a say in what’s going on, it makes me feel like I’m not just sitting back and watching.”
In total our AP government and politics class passed out over 100 voter registration forms, which are still trickling back to us to be sorted and submitted. Many students are filling them out online as well; they want to be involved in our political system. Mrs. Villano says, “It was important for us to participate in voter registration day because voting in elections is the most important rights citizens have, and there are issues that concern young people that people in power don’t give enough attention to.”
Our class and the administration will continue to work towards ensuring the newest members of our political society are well-informed, are confident in their opinions, and will feel empowered to step into a voting booth during every election. The growth of our country lies within the hands of those who take advantage of the several opportunities they have to be involved in our political system. The best way to be involved is to vote. Thomas Jefferson said, “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”