The symbol of American democracy flies at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. PHOTO CREDIT: BRIDGET BRIGHT

Closing the Gap, Getting all Voices Heard

By Bridget Bright

The next generation of Massachusetts voters is feeling the pressure of the upcoming election, especially with the issues they are facing with the registration process.

Massachusetts, like many of the other states, is struggling to get voters to register and cast their vote. According to data from the state, in the March 1 presidential primary 4,271,835 people were registered to vote. But out of that number, not all voted.

Brian S. McNiff, communications director for the Secretary of State, said that Massachusetts makes it accessible for young voters to register to vote. The website for the Secretary of State’s office has many links to help people of all ages register to vote. This website is a great resource, according to McNiff.

Sernah Essien, who goes to Boston University but lives in California, said the distance has caused her some difficulties. She said, in order to change the information on her party, she had to have her parents fill out her forms to get them in on time.

According to McNiff, polls tend to “miss whole gaps of people” because they fail to vote, therefore they are not getting their voices heard.

College students around the city were in agreement. One of the biggest gaps is within their own generation, they agreed. As McNiff said, the older generations will always “vote in a higher percentage” than the younger generation, and students are noticing it.

Essien is active in helping her peers register to vote, and even handed out registration forms. Getting in the mind-set of her peers, she said her friends think, “I’m just one person and it’s not going to change things.”

Essien wants the voices of her generation to be heard and to understand how impactful their vote can be.

Bryan Johnson, a student at Regis, has noticed many students “stay in their bed wishing Bernie Sanders would lower costs of college tuition” rather than voting.

According to McNiff, another issue that comes up is deciding on where students register to vote.

For Tessa Robb, her decision to vote in New Hampshire or Massachusetts came down to two factors: being unsure if she can use her school address and being unsure on which state her vote would have a bigger impact in.

Like Robb, Daniel Teich said he will choose to vote in his home state of Missouri because it is a swing state.

Other than just registering to vote and just deciding on where to vote, the young voters then have to make educated decisions on who or what to vote for and create their own political path.

Johnson tries to come up with his own political views, but he said it is “hard to ignore” the influences that surround him, whether it be social media or his family. His father is very Republican, and coaches him to vote for the Republican nominee.

Teich thinks that face-to-face dialogue is the best way to form his own views because “people are more likely to have to rethink and reconsider their views on certain things rather than just taking what they see.”

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