Young people have a massive role to play in the decisions that shape the country. Encouraging young voters to be civically engaged can increase voter turnout in upcoming elections.
Although Election Day is incredibly important for civic engagement and making a contribution to local and national politics, it’s important year-round as well. Students should stay civically engaged by volunteering for politicians and staying up to date on politics by following reliable media outlets like Associated Press.
Students like Lydia Freeby, a senior art therapy major, stays civically engaged by going to protests like the Women’s March and posting news articles on her Instagram stories.
“There’s so many issues that are going to impact our lives, particularly women or people of color or people in the LGBTQ community,” Freeby said. “So anything that I can do to feed into those communities and help build them I’ll be happy to do it.”
If college students aren’t civically engaged, our democracy is not truly representative and is not reaching its full potential, according to Tufts Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
“We want our students to raise their voices and think about the challenges facing us, and how much of the burden of it will fall on you and your generation if we do not start solving some things,” said Steve Newman, an English professor and a Philadelphia poll worker.
Newman is the majority inspector of his polling division in Northwest Philadelphia. He manages the polling place, monitors the number of voters who cast ballots and ensures that the results are delivered to the county election office at the end of the day.
Youth engagement can improve social-emotional well-being, and when young voters feel empowered to take action and see their efforts achieve positive change, it can have lasting impacts, according to Tufts Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
Nasif Khan, a junior political science major, volunteers with the Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance, an activist group working to foster community engagement in politics.
“I feel like local politicians, they really have a stake in their communities, and they’re connected to the people that they’re fighting for,” Khan said.
The City of Philadelphia provides volunteer opportunities for individuals to volunteer for candidates on its website, including canvassing, phone banking and attending meetings with local volunteers and party candidates.
Registering to be a poll worker can be impactful because students can contribute to efficient voting experiences for everyone. Philadelphia workers earn between $180 to $205 for the day, BillyPenn reported.
Volunteering is important, but staying up-to-date and aware of local politics is another way to remain civically engaged.
The Civic Engagement Academy, located in the Philadelphia Municipal Services Building at North 15th and Arch Streets, is a free training program that offers workshops on course subjects like “Government 101”, “Volunteer Management” and “Community Meeting Management,” according to the Office of the Mayor. Students can register for the various workshops on its website.
Advocating for community values and needs by reaching out to elected officials is another impactful way to remain civically engaged. Students can write letters and emails, but calling is the best way to directly speak with elected leaders. Anyone can locate their elected officials’ phone numbers and mailing addresses by utilizing the usa.gov website.
Midterm elections are incredibly important, but channeling the same passion and excitement about civic engagement should continue throughout the year with local and national political involvement.