Leesville Students Register to Vote in This Year’s Elections

69 out of 172 seniors planned to or have already pre-registered to vote (about 40%). 65 seniors (38%) won’t pre-register. Photo courtesy of Nabil K. Mark.

This year, National Voter Registration Day fell on September 27, 2016. Although the majority of Leesville students aren’t eligible to vote in this year’s election, a select few can start to make a difference in America’s future.

American citizens are eligible to vote if they are at least 18 before November 8 and have registered. A Voter Registration Drive was to take place during SMART Lunch on September 28; it was cancelled due to the loss of SMART Lunch that day. Surprisingly, a lot of students seem to be utilizing their ability to vote.

A poll of 172 Leesville seniors revealed that 22% were eligible to take part in this year’s elections.  And 87% of these students planned to vote. In the last presidential election (2012), only 45% of American citizens aged 18-28 cast their ballots. The number was slightly higher in 2008 at 51%

Youth participation has increased from 2012 to 2016. Out of twenty-four states that were polled by CIRCLE, seventeen had about the same turnout at the polls in young people aged 17-29 in the 2016 spring primaries compared to the 2008 elections.

The boost in student voting may have to do with the importance of this year’s election. “I think that this particular election is important just because there is so much controversy right now… having the chance to pick the best candidate is very important at this stage,” said Alexis Vetrano, a senior.

Although Vetrano isn’t eligible to participate this election, she would vote if she was of age. “I would vote… people think that their vote doesn’t count but it does. Everyone’s opinion counts.”

“I would definitely vote in this election. It’s been an interesting year. Whatever happens could changed the way this country works no matter who wins,” said Caleb Murphy, another Leesville senior. Murphy has already been pre-registered as a Democrat, even though he will not being turning 18 by November 8.

The future president’s policies, especially in college education, will directly affect current high school students within the next four years.

“Let’s make debt-free college available to everyone available to everyone… And let’s liberate the millions of Americans who already have student debt,” said Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate, on June 22. Her college plan includes:

  • Making it possible for students to graduate from a public university without student debt.
  • Free community college tuition.
  • Increasing state funding in higher education.
  • A $25 billion fund for minority-institutions.
  • Supporting college students who double as parents.

Donald Trump, the Republican candidate, wants to “ensure that the opportunity to attend a two or four-year college, or to pursue a trade or a skill set through vocational and technical education, will be easier to access, pay for, and finish.” He also wants to add “an additional federal investment of $20 billion towards school choice. This will be done by reprioritizing existing federal dollars,” according to his website. In addition, Trump wants to make it a national goal to provide school choice every single one of the low-income school-aged student.

Another reason so many people may be voting is because the stakes are so high.

“I don’t like Hillary or Donald Trump, but voting for a third party candidate would be throwing away vote,” said Murphy. “I would vote for Hillary just so I can stop Donald. I rather not have someone like him… win this election.”

It seems like several people share this sentiment: 61% of Leesville students chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.


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