Young people in New Jersey, please vote! You have incredible unused power | Opinion

In the intricate tapestry of democracy, each citizen’s voice weaves a unique thread, contributing to the vibrant fabric of a nation. Among these voices, the young have an indispensable role to play. The significance of youth participation in democracy cannot be overstated. In New Jersey, a state known for its rich history and diverse population, the impact of young voters has the potential to shape policies, address critical issues, and drive positive change.

Young voters have the power to reshape the political landscape of New Jersey. Their numbers are astounding and their ideals often reflect a fresh perspective on the issues that matter most. When young voices are amplified through the ballot box, policies can be transformed to address their concerns effectively.

A Fairleigh Dickinson University poll found that young people are concerned with fixing some of today’s most pressing and important issues. Forty-six percent of participants “strongly” agree that climate change is an existential threat and 81% said every person should have access to free basic health care. Their potential influence in shaping the state’s policies and politics is immense. These young generations have distinct priorities, such as climate change, social justice, and affordable education, which can significantly impact the direction of the state.

Consider education an area of significant importance to New Jersey’s youth. Young voters can champion policies that improve the quality of education, reduce student debt burdens, and foster equitable opportunities. They can advocate for climate action, pushing for environmentally conscious policies that secure a sustainable future.

With youth participation, policies on social justice, affordable housing, and healthcare access can all be molded to align with the aspirations of the next generation.

Voter apathy among youth is a common concern, often driven by disillusionment with the political process and a belief that their voices will not be heard. Despite their potential, young voters encounter a range of obstacles when attempting to cast their ballots.

The absence of comprehensive and engaging civic education programs in schools leaves numerous young adults ill-prepared to navigate the complexities of the voting process and understand its significance. This can leave potential voters disengaged until election day, and if they’re not registered 21 days before the election, they can’t vote. The deadline to register for the Nov. 7 election was Oct. 17.

Additionally, instances of misinformation and disinformation on social media platforms can further confusion and distrust, making it challenging for any voter to discern fact from fiction. To foster a more inclusive and equitable democracy, addressing these barriers is imperative, alongside promoting youth engagement through voter registration campaigns and educational initiatives.

Voters of Tomorrow NJ and the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters are organizations that have been at the forefront of efforts to engage and educate young voters.

Voters of Tomorrow NJ has worked with universities such as Stockton, Kean and Rutgers, and high schools, to help register youth voters! Our organizations collectively have helped thousands of young people register to vote, breaking down one of the barriers to youth engagement.

To the young readers of New Jersey, we implore you to register and vote. Your voice matters, and your vote can shape the future of your state. Don’t underestimate the power you hold to influence policies and grab the attention of elected officials.

To our policymakers, we urge you to prioritize policies that support youth voters, such as implementing the New Jersey Voting Rights Act and Same Day Voter Registration, which will protect and empower all voters, and lowering the voting age to 17. A more inclusive and equitable future is within our grasp if we work together.

In this grand tapestry of democracy, each thread, no matter how young, adds strength and resilience to the fabric. New Jersey’s youth have the power to shape their state’s future, addressing critical issues and driving positive change. The role of youth voting is pivotal in this endeavor, and it’s important that we look to these trailblazing organizations to help guide the way.