Student, teacher, candidate urge young voters to be informed

Hannah Pate, Staff Writer

Turning 18 comes with many freedoms and responsibilities, and senior Jessica Banks is specifically excited about voting for the first time in November. She considers it to be one of the first steps of being an adult.
Although she doesn’t think it’s the best year she could have started voting presidentially, she is still looking forward to using her voice as an American citizen.
“There is so much more to vote for that’s not just the presidential election,” Banks said.
Especially when looking at the presidential race, she looks for the candidate who most aligns with her values. Banks values the type of person that the candidate is, not just the type of politician they are.
Lots of people complain about the government, but not many do anything about it. One way she thinks change can be accomplished is through voting, she said.
“If you are 18, you should vote,” Banks said.
Government teacher Brian Halverson considers this election to be especially interesting.
“It’s going to be something of a spectacle,” Halverson said.
He says the current election cycle can help with government classes since it stimulates interest, but as a citizen he can’t help but wish he had a better choice in candidates.
He considers his main job in the democratic process to be educating future voters. He tries to get them to a place where they understand their government enough to vote and participate.
“I want students to enter the process, begin caring, realize what’s at stake,” he said.
Although as a voter he considers character, judgment, intellect and prior experience important, he also believes that nothing in the world could prepare someone to be the President of the United States.
Halverson acknowledges that voter apathy is higher today than it was decades ago, but he also considers the positives in that fact.
“Voters are a little more informed.” Halverson said. “When people don’t care enough to cast an informed vote it’s not always a bad thing that they do not vote. Apathy is a lesser evil than voting blind.”
But what does voting mean to candidates running for public office? Cascade County Commissioner candidate Mitch Tropila considers voting just as important now as he did when he was a first-time voter in 1984, and his time as a Montana representative and senator has influenced him a lot in his current race.
He acknowledges that some people may think that their vote doesn’t matter, but he doesn’t believe that’s true. He has seen more voter participation thanks to permanent absentee voting, and social media has changed voters’ decision-making process, Tropila said.
He reaches out to the younger electorate, by frequently meeting them where they are at through things like YouTube and Facebook.
Tropila encourages that youth who aren’t of voting age get involved in something they are passionate about as well.
“Just because you can’t vote doesn’t mean you can’t have a voice,” Tropila said. “I represent you ,too.”