Waiting to vote: underage political involvement

Seventeen year old SPSCC student Jordan Williams online researching the Justice Party candidate, Rocky Anderson

It’s easy to feel powerless over politics when you’re not old enough to vote.

More than 700 Running Start (high-school-aged) students attending South Puget Sound Community College can’t vote yet, but they can start playing a part this election season.

Student Jordan Williams expressed his frustration at not being able to have a legal voice in all the issues being discussed and challenged.

Williams said, “Politics are very fundamental to the nature of the world we have to experience.”

There are many ways for young people to support candidates they deem best and issues that most interest and concern them.

To promote awareness and support for any particular issue or campaign, minors can volunteer to picket or raise awareness among older peers.

Many campaigns, local especially, call for material and financial donation which are both ways for young people to be active in this area.

On Thurston County’s ballot this autumn is Proposition 1, which if passed will allow the Thurston Public Utility District (PUD) to enter into the electricity-providing business. Despite the fact that the passing of this proposition will affect the children and grandchildren of voters, it will ultimately be up to voting-age people whether or not Thurston PUD will in fact be able to compete with Puget Sound Energy.

Even though only petitions signed by legal adults are generally recognized, minors can play an important part in informing the 18 and older crowd, and encouraging them to take advantage of their right to vote, petition, and protest.

According to SPSCC student Riley Maddox he frequently tries to inform those around him frequently.

“I’m interested in politics, so I try to just make sure that everybody stays informed, and they’re not making decisions about who should run our country because of their personal biases,” he said.

By watching political races minors can develop unique and informed opinions that they will be able to support when they are able to vote.

If one feels passionate about issues of social justice, and is interested in writing about them, submitting to a local paper such as the monthly-distributed Works In Progress is something to consider. This Olympia community paper is free and completely volunteer-run. Inquiries and submissions can be sent to olywip@gmail.com.

SPSCC’s student-run newspaper, The Sounds, encourages submissions from students and is constantly looking to represent student opinions. To learn about our submission policy refer to page 11.

Many campaigns also strongly encourage their supporters to contact local officials, such as the Olympia City Council, the Mayor, and Thurston County elected officials. By doing this, people can advocate their perspective on any given issue, and make their voice heard.

Constituents can inform their elected officials of their position on issues. This is another way for minors to share their political opinion.

Local officials can be contacted by phone, email, or letter, and the public has the option to schedule a face-to-face appointment with officials.

Our state’s elected officials, and their contact information can be found at www.sos.wa.gov under the “Elections & Voting” link.