BY ADELA AGUIRRE
With all the political tension scattered across media platforms, it’s hard to not have an opinion on what’s a priority and what changes need to take place. I constantly try to figure out the politics, and I’m only 19 years old, which makes me part of an underwhelming demographic when it comes to voting.
People think the youth either doesn’t care, or are completely oblivious to their surroundings. It’s natural to assume this when just 16 percent of Californians between the ages of 18 to 24 years voted in the June 5 primary election, according to a Los Angeles Times article.
However, the youth is aware of what’s going on, and they do care. In a recent study conducted by Evitarus, a public opinion research and public policy consulting firm, 68 percent of the 2,043 Californian youth within the sample agreed they saw voting as an effective method to positively impact society.
If youth understand the power of their vote, then what’s the hold up? It appears that youth need more of a push to actually get themselves to the polls. The good news is the push doesn’t need to be all that forceful.
Something as small as a political campaign outreach could affect whether or not a young person votes, according to the study. There simply lies a disconnect when it comes to politics and the youth’s personal understanding of its impact on their everyday lives.
Central Valley Freedom Summer (CVFS), an organization that researches education on voting and grassroots organizing efforts in the Central Valley, aimed to address this disconnect in its three-day conference this summer at the University of California, Merced. The conference was hosted by UC professors and students from the Central Valley.
Youth from across the Central Valley came to participate in the workshops that covered topics including environmental justice, Punjabi culture and the education-to-prison pipeline. The conference inspired many of the students, motivating some of them to continue working with CVFS throughout the summer.
Syvannah Sandoval, a junior at Cesar Chavez High School in Delano, was one of the students who worked with CVFS throughout the summer. She learned how to educate the youth on civic engagement, particularly through pre-registration.
“Youth growing up, we feel like we’re powerless, and we don’t have a voice,” Sandoval said. “Voting is one way we can use to be heard, and that’s why it’s important to pre-register.”
Because of her efforts, more than 1,000 students registered and pre-registered to vote. Students also created history in Delano when a resolution was passed allowing alumni and nonprofit organization or individuals to go onto Delano’s high school campuses to pre-register students and educate them.
The students attended school board meetings and convinced board members to pass the resolution.
The resolution allowed the CVFS interns to work with the high school students as they formed a group called“Loud for Tomorrow.” There is a chapter of “Loud for Tomorrow” in all three high schools in Delano now.
I’ll admit that I have been frustrated with how things have been politically, but being involved in Central Valley Freedom Summer and being able to witness the level of heart and determination poured into the idea of making the world a better place has reignited my hope. This upcoming generation is fighting hard for the change we want to see.
We all need to fight, and we all need to vote.
Adela Aguirre is a former South Kern Sol reporter from Delano and currently attends UCLA.