TUCSON, ARIZ. - This election will be the very first for a lot of voters this year, through efforts to register young citizens who just turned old enough to vote.
Older Americans are usually described as the most reliable voters, but some of the people casting ballots this year will be first timers turning 18 in time for November 3rd.
The group Mi Familia Vota has been seeking out new voters and getting them registered. COVID-19 knocked out usual methods like student registration drives and in-school presentations.
Ulises Ventura of Mi Familia Vota says the group learned to adapt: “We became creative and started doing virtual presentations. Instead of those in person voter registration drives we started doing drive throughs, where students and parents could drive up to their school, their local school and registered to vote.”
Mi Familia Vota concentrated registration efforts at High Schools in TUSD, Sunnyside, Flowing Wells and Amphi. A lawsuit by Mi Familia Vota added ten days to Arizona’s registration period after the group cited COVID as interfering with registering voters of all ages. Ulises Ventura says that extension helped register an additional 40,000 voters, part of 160,000 new voters the group registered in Arizona this year.
While candidates are the headliners in a Presidential year, students are interested in voter propositions and the issues behind them.
Ventura says, “Education is a big issue for them that stands out; immigration reform and accessibility to health care are big issues that stand out to the youth right now.”
He says they’re not making their decisions from traditional news coverage. They depend on what they find on social media where it can take extra effort to know what you can trust.
“Like the best sources to go through, how to identify what sources were not credible, what sources are credible and just educating them and informing them to the best of our ability.”