[Brief] AP government teacher Jeff Foster helps students with early voting

Kevin Hamm, Writer

AP Government teacher Jeff Foster volunteered to help some of his students with early voting at Pine Trails Park after school on Thursday, Oct. 27. He explained what information to give the volunteers running the voting booths, how to mark their ballots and how the voting process works in general.

Many students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will be voting for the first time in November, but some have already voted early.

“It’s important for young people to vote because, just like anything else, when you do it for the first time it becomes normalized. [As such, voting is] imperative because it makes them aware that they can affect change on both local and federal levels,” Foster said. “I’ve seen all sides of voting; I’ve seen kids see the candidates they supported lose. While you won’t always get what you want, I think there’s a direct correlation between participating and feeling satisfied because if they just stand by and don’t participate in democracy they can’t complain.”

Controversial issues such as abortion, immigration, marijuana and gun violence will be important motivators for young people getting out to vote as there has been more controversy around them in recent years as well as social media attention.

“The midterm elections are very important to me because they directly impact decisions made in the state of Florida on matters that are important to me like abortion, marijuana and education,” senior Alya Abufele said. “My experience made me one hundred percent want to vote again, and I hope it will encourage other young people to vote because the lack of young people voting is concerning because a lot of them don’t understand the process, so I think schools should be more involved in educating students on voting.”

While young people typically have lower voter turnout compared to older Americans, youth voter turnout is likely to increase in the midterms as more young Americans feel enthusiastic about voting.

“Becoming a citizen and finally being able to vote in the same week makes me feel so heard. Knowing that my vote will count for the possibility of change makes me feel relieved because I hope my vote will improve the state of the country,” Abufele said. “Early voting was great; there were no long lines and I felt very welcome by the volunteers.”

Voting is also a way for young people to express their opinions on a range of issues that affect them.

“I feel proud being able to share my votes and opinions in this year’s elections, I definitely feel I have to start educating myself more now,” senior Sarah Lieberman said. “I liked early voting, it was a really easy process, and my experience will bring me back to vote in other big elections because I think it is important for young people to get educated and be aware about what is happening in their state and country.”

Early voting in Broward County for general elections began Monday, Oct. 24, and will end Sunday, Nov. 6. More information on early voting locations and times in Broward can be found at browardvotes.gov.

The upcoming November midterm elections will include several important races for Florida, including the senate, gubernatorial, house and local elections in Broward and neighboring counties.

Americans all across the country will cast their votes Tuesday, Nov. 8, to decide who will control their government and what issues will be prioritized.