Young Amer­i­cans turn out in record num­bers in polls

The Philippine Star - - NEWS - By SHEILA CRISOSTOMO

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.

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