On Tuesday, Sep. 22, students from Jesuit high schools on the West Coast came together to educate themselves and others about voting at Voter Education Night. These high schools included Loyola High School of Los Angeles, Bellarmine in San José, Cristo Rey in San José and Jesuit High School of Sacramento. The event was spearheaded by Annie Fox and her organization, Jesuits West.
Fox said, “Jesuits West is the province that supports Jesuit ministries in the 10 most western states in the United States. The Province launched the Jesuits West Collaborative Organizing for Racial Equity (Jesuits West CORE) to unite Jesuit ministries in an effort to advocate for racial equity in our institutions and the wider community. We know that engaging and educating voters on how their vote impacts racial equity is essential for this work, so we’re excited to support this event where students from Jesuit high schools took the lead in educating their peers in how and why to vote.”
In the actual meeting, Fox began by welcoming everyone from all schools and thanking students for their time and for organizing the event to educate their peers on the importance of voting. Junior Broderick Hannon led a discussion during the event about why eligible people should vote.
Hannon said, “Personally, I think everybody should vote for President. Even if you don’t like Biden or Trump, there is almost certainly a candidate with whom you agree more than the other. The two-party system really limits voters because voting Green Party or Libertarian or any other third party doesn’t really matter, as the race is between the Democrat and Republican.”
Junior Charles Legaspi presented statistics on voter turnout rates. These statistics stated that only 58.1% of the voting-eligible population, around 138 million Americans, voted in the 2016 general and presidential election. In California, the voter turnout rate was estimated at 58.2% of eligible voters, which was lower than both 2008 (61.6%) and 2012 (58.6%). Turnout rates depend on age: As many older people go out to vote, many younger voters do not.
Legaspi said, “The youth loves to speak on social change and advocate for change in our country; however, not many of the youth actually vote, with turnout rates less than 40% during previous presidential elections. We need to energize the youth vote and help them understand that their vote matters. When voting, everyone is on equal footing, and no vote counts more or less than the other.”
When asked about how to make educated decisions on representatives, Fox said “Schedule a meeting with them. I think most people would be surprised how easy it is to meet your local elected officials, and how important our local officials are in our lives. Sure, it might be hard to meet a Presidential candidate, but your County Supervisor is the person who determines what your local Coronavirus response plan is, or when businesses can open, or how expensive mental health services will be for low-income families.”