Although no more than a handful of seniors were eligible to cast their ballots in the midterm election that gave Republicans control of Congress for the first time since 2007, students of all grade levels still found ways to volunteer and get involved in the election process.
Volunteers worked both as interns on election campaigns, as well as election pages who had more broad roles in ensuring a smooth election.
One such intern was junior Samee Ahmad, who worked for the John Foust congressional campaign starting in April.
“Over the summer I mainly did festivals and events for John,” Ahmad said. “Talking to the locals, handing out balloons, and brandishing totems with ‘John Foust for Congress’ plastered on them was the majority of my job.”
Sophomores enrolled in government classes and members of the Spanish National Honor Society also got the opportunity to participate on election day by working as pages who directed voters to the proper polling places, instructed voters on what forms to fill out and helped with other administrative tasks.
While many volunteers used their involvement in the elections to give back to the community, others also saw the opportunity as a learning experience.
“I learned a lot about how personal politics can be,” said junior Spencer Gilbert, who also interned for the Foust campaign. “Some people think congressman, that’s like a nationally elected position, but there is really a lot of personal connection that goes into running and representing a district.”
Despite the presence of passionate young people across the country who are essential to election campaigns, voter turnout rates remain traditionally low.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, voter turnout among young people has decreased steadily since 2008, and currently only 38% of eligible voters ages 18-24 vote in elections, down 12.9 percent from its peak in 1964.
“Young people have a lot of strong ideas and opinions about things,” Gilbert said. “But if they are not getting out there and voting it’s not going to really matter…I think if more people did things like this, we would have a much higher turnout.”