Alabama’s elections are approaching quickly, which means those who want a say in Alabama’s policies and legislation should register before the deadline on Oct. 22.
The necessity of voting becomes more important since the U.S. Elections Project reported that only 57.9 percent of eligible voters in 2016 participated.
Ashlan Kelley, the president of College Republicans, and Kat Rogers, the president of College Democrats, both agree it’s important for young people to participate in local elections.
Rogers, a senior political science and history major from Wetumpka, said millennials and Generation Z (Gen Z) make up a large portion of the population and have been more politically active recently, despite previously low turnouts for young voters.
“By 2020, if not already, millennials (and Gen Z) will make up the largest voting bloc,” Rogers said. “This means that young people have a lot of sway when it comes to deciding who governs us.
“It is a responsibility of us as citizens to vote. We all pay taxes and have to live under the laws created, (so we) might as well have a say in it.”
Kelley, a sophomore social science major from Andalusia, agreed on the importance of voting, especially because of the “brave men and women (who) fight for our freedom every day to have a say in this country.
“In this nation, we get the freedom to have our voices be heard by casting a vote in elections,” Kelley said. “My hope is that once you become a registered voter that you will participate in elections throughout every season of life.”
While national elections are important, Kelley stressed the importance of local politics.
“Local elections are important because many times local offices affect us the most,” she said. “It’s important to be educated on the positions up for election and the candidates.
“These positions are much closer to home, and as a registered voter, you have a say in who represents your community.”
According to Rogers, even though presidential elections receive the most coverage, local elections have the greatest effect on day-to-day life.
“Local elections determine things about our school systems, police department and city ordinances,” Rogers said.
While city and county elections are important, policy affects Alabamians on a state level as well, despite the high level of monetary interest in Montgomery.
“While money and interest groups do heavily influence legislators, voters do have power to turn opinions of those elected,” Rogers said. “Even if you do not like politics, it still affects you and every aspect of your life.”
Fundamentally, both Kelley and Rogers stressed the importance of young voters making their voices heard.
“Your voice matters and is heard in legislation,” Kelley said. “As an educated voter, you get to decide who represents you and your district.
“As a public servant, our representatives are responsible for responding to the desires and needs of their constituents through legislative action.”
Alabama residents should apply online, by mail or at the Pike County Courthouse.
To register, you must be at least 18 and have a driver’s license or valid non-driver’s identification, but according to Alabama officials, a university-issued ID card can also work.
You can submit an online application or download a mail-in application at https://sos.alabama.gov/alabama-votes/voter/register-to-vote. The application must be received before the deadline, so citizens should allow adequate time for it to travel through the mail.