The online student newspaper of Palisades Charter High School

Tideline

The online student newspaper of Palisades Charter High School

Tideline

The online student newspaper of Palisades Charter High School

Tideline

A Lack of Civic Engagement is Directing A New Generation of Voters Away From the Polls

A+Lack+of+Civic+Engagement+is+Directing+A+New+Generation+of+Voters+Away+From+the+Polls
Emma Hall

Only 55 percent of eligible voters aged 18 to 29 cast a ballot in the 2020 presidential election. This is below the national average of 66 percent. With an election approaching, the political efficacy of the 41 million new eligible voters is integral to American democracy.

The first presidential election I remember is Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton in 2016. I was old enough to understand the importance of this election, but too young to have an impact. Since then, I have been enthralled in politics.

The importance of voting cannot be overstated. A single vote can determine the course of an election and affect countless lives. Pali junior and Associated Student Body (ASB) Commissioner of Student Involvement Taylor Beljon-Regen agreed with this idea.

“I think it’s interesting that voting can have such a big effect,” Beljon-Regen said, referencing a local Washington State election that was decided by a singular vote. “A guy didn’t vote for himself, and he lost; he just thought it wouldn’t matter.”

Beljon-Regen recognizes that many people do not understand the importance of voting.

“The vast majority of people don’t have any sort of civic engagement and are uneducated on this subject,” she said.

Pali senior and eligible voter in the 2024 election Genessis Zuniga believes that this issue stems from poor classroom instruction.

“[Our] school hasn’t done a great job on educating us on voting,” Zuniga said. “I feel the voting process and candidate research is something we have to learn by ourselves, and schools should partake in that more.”

A significant reason for omitting political literacy education in schools is the polarization between the Democrat and Republican parties. Though there has always been underlying differences between the two parties, the divide has never been greater than it is today. Due to this vast split in American political beliefs, the topic of civic engagement is taboo in most households and classrooms.

Teachers feel hesitant to begin discussions on the topic of voter participation as many people feel that politics are a sensitive subject due to many individuals’ insistence on their beliefs. This adherence may turn a conversation into an argument, and a classroom into a battlefield.

Senior Taylor Gair, 18, adds her take on political education in the school system.

“The biggest platform I’ve seen that teachers use is CNN, which is very liberal,” Gair said. “A lot of the teachers are very biased at [Pali] and tend to not show both sides.”

Due to negligence in the United States school system and vast discrepancies between major political parties, many young adults are entering the 2024 election unprepared.

Zuniga said she is not registered to vote and is unsure if she will be casting a ballot this year.

“[I feel like I’m] not educated enough to vote,” she said. “As a voter, you want to be as educated as possible. And just going in there, voting and not knowing what you’re really voting for is irresponsible.”

Gair is in a similar position, and she also said she is currently unregistered to vote and is unsure whether or not she will submit her ballot. Gair said she understands the importance of voting and the weight it bears on the new generation of voters, but she feels unprepared nonetheless.

If these women are any indicator of how upcoming voters have been educated to prepare them for the 2024 presidential election, then steps must be taken immediately to rectify this issue.

The first step to correcting the issue can be planted in K-12 school districts’ curriculum. Learning about politics and civic engagement in the classroom at an early age will not only reduce the stigma associated with political discussion but also prepare young voters to become active citizens.

Senior and prospective voter Madison Hecht was raised in such an environment. She said she knows the importance of starting political conversations at a young age and including them in educational environments. always [a big presence” in her childhood.

“I think, at least in my family, [we’ve] never seen [political conversations] as taboo,” Hecht said.

Starting political discussions at a young age and incorporating them into preliminary education will produce adults who feel prepared, excited and encouraged to vote.

To combat the lull in voter education, progress must ensue immediately. Parents must begin political education at a young age, and encourage school systems to do the same.

Reagan expressed the dramatic effect this change will have on generations of voters.

“If you start [civic education] early, it becomes more of a normalized thing,” she said. “People are more likely to have a positive mindset like, when I’m 18, I’m voting, I’m going to participate in the election and make my voice and vote heard.”

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About the Contributors
Kylie Lupescu, Staff Writer
Kylie Lupescu, a junior, is returning to the Tideline staff. Kylie has always been passionate about writing and educating others about important issues. She attended a program at Columbia’s Barnard over summer to advance these skills. She is also attending the New York University fall 2023 pre-college course, and is on the Palisades Charter High School varsity girls water polo team. Outside of school, she enjoys hanging out with her dog, or friends, watching movies, and listening to music.  
Emma Hall, Staff Illustrator
Emma Hall is currently a sophomore at Pali and is in her first year as an illustrator for Tideline. She is looking forward to growing as an artist and to making new friends. Outside of school, Emma enjoys cooking, spending time with friends and family and listening to Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey. She also plays club soccer and enjoys reading fiction books.