Young Americans turn out in record numbers in polls
LAS VEGAS – Energized by various social issues, youth voters in the US turned out in record numbers during the Nov. 6 midterm polls, a Filipino activist from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) said here yesterday.
Karl Catarata, a third year political science major at UNLV and youth coordinator of the National Federation of Filipino-American Association, said the issues on migration, education and the economy drove the youth from the Asia Pacific-American community, including Filipinos, to vote in the recent elections.
“The youth (made sure that their voices are heard),” Catarata told the journalists participating in the US government-organized International Reporting Tour for 2018 Midterm Polls in Los Angeles, California and Las Vegas, Nevada.
Citing estimates of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, 31 percent of voters aged 18 to 29 cast their votes, significantly higher than the 10 percent voter turnout during the midterm polls in 2014.
Various groups, Catarata noted, did door-to-door advocacy and phone banking, where they called on young voters to avail themselves of early voting. They also used social media to underscore the need for young people to exercise their civic duty to vote, Catarata added. Although Catarata was born in the US, he said his heart goes out to people who will be affected by the immigration policies of the US government.
“(Migration, education and the economy) are the salient issues that (Pacific Islanders) and Americans have in Nevada. That’s why in these elections, we really worked hard to make sure that there will be a high voter turnout among the youth,” said Catarata, whose parents Carlo and Norleen moved from Cebu and Leyte, respectively, in the mid-1990s.
The election fever also caught up with 18-year-old Issa Avenido, who is majoring in biology at UNLV. While Avenido’s Green Card doesn’t allow her to vote, she is looking forward to the day when she can.
“I was really excited to see people voting. It’s encouraged in my class. One of my classes gives us incentives – three points in attendance – to vote and one of my classes was cancelled because the professor wanted us to vote,” Avenido said.
Avenido’s family moved to the US after she graduated from high school and she claimed it was her first time to be in “an environment where voting is encouraged.”
This early, Avenido has a guiding principle in choosing candidates – their platform of government.
“One thing is for sure, I want someone who knows what is right and what is wrong. Someone who is strong-willed to say ‘we have to change this, we have to do something about it,’” Avenido said.
Avenido said she will not choose candidates just because they are popular.