My experience dropping off my election ballot at the Chaffee County Administration building drop-box Nov. 1, was unexpectedly uplifting.
Sure, I was glad to have completed – and signed – my ballot and maneuvered my walker over to the drop-box and inserted it.
There was someone parked in an SUV directly in front of the drop-box, just talking away on a cellphone, and my newsman sensibilities couldn’t help but wonder if he might be one of the right-wing zealots monitoring drop-boxes and sometimes harassing voters depositing ballots.
Then, as I was about to back out of my parking spot and leave, I spotted a young voter at the box, smiling broadly as they took a selfie of the moment their ballot was deposited. I grabbed my cell and quickly snapped the photo you see here.
I couldn’t help but wonder if it may have been their first time voting, but they departed before I could get out to speak to the young elector. It left me feeling good about all our local and national efforts to promote getting out the vote as a counter strategy to the multiple efforts from some right-wing jurisdictions to make it more difficult to cast a ballot; such as not counting legally mailed ballots for minor omissions like a date.
According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), there are an estimated 8.3 million newly eligible young voters for the 2022 midterm elections; that is, youth who have turned 18 since the previous general election in November 2020.
CIRCLE stated: “These 18- and 19-year-olds comprise 16 percent of the 18-29 age group for the 2022 election. They include approximately 4.5 million white youth and 3.8 million youth of color: 2 million Latinos, 1.2 million Black youth, 500,000 Asians, and 80,000 Native Americans.”
CIRCLE also reports this block of youthful voters is also much more diverse.
They state: “…While approximately 63 percent of all U.S. residents over 18 are white, 54 percent of newly eligible voters are Black and, especially, Latino youth make up a larger share of these new members of the electorate. In every region of the country, Latinos make up a larger share of the ages 18-19 electorate than of all residents over age 18.”
In the West, CIRCLE said Latinos make up 40 percent of all newly eligible voters, almost matching the 42 percent of youth in that age group who are white. The organization notes Asian youth, who have recently been increasing their voter turnout and political engagement, make up 11 percent of the ages 18-19 group in the West, the only region of the country where they make up a double-digit proportion of newly eligible voters.
Let’s hope the youth vote turnout for this mid-term election exceeds all expectations. The threats to our representative democracy are increasing as never before, and even more voter participation is the only viable answer to those threats.
In the meantime, congrats to that unidentified young voter taking the selfie at the ballot drop-box, and let us know if that marked your first time voting.