Youth, Democracy and CAKE!

This Election Day, The Alaska Center Education Fund partnered with campus organizations to host a celebration that encouraged young voters to vote at the Student Union polling place. The event was created for students to celebrate voting together- and thanks to our partners, we were able to throw quite a party!!

Throughout the afternoon, students waited in line upstairs for their turn to vote and peered curiously downstairs at the food and festivities happening in the usually quiet cafeteria. Lifetime voters and first-time voters alike showed off their “I Voted” stickers to get a piece of cake. Tim Flynn, the Student Union Building Manager, went around showing people his framed collection of Alaska’s new Early Vote stickers.

Looking at the responses to USUAA Student Government’s “I Voted Because” board, it was clear that students were showing up for all different reasons. Answers ranged from “My mom told me to” and “there was cake” to “voting was a privilege that was fought for” and “to protect our salmon and make change for the future!” USUAA senator Alex Jorgenson was probably happy to see that someone had written “because Alex Jorgenson told me to” on the board.

Plates for Compassion, the UAA vegan and animal rights student group, brought a table full of vegan cakes and cupcakes that were popular with vegans and non-vegans alike.

Although conclusive numbers on youth voter turnout in Alaska has yet to come out, there are encouraging results from around the nation. Estimates show that voters under 29 increased their turnout to 31%, compared to 21% in the 2014 midterms, and that twice as many voted Democrat than Republican. Polling place officials upstairs told me that they had far more voters come through than what they remembered from 2016.

After such a successful event, we are really looking forward to more youth voter engagement programs throughout the year.

Kengo Nagaoka
Youth Civics Engagement Coordinator

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