Student Voices in Government

Political activist and organizer of the recent IBW voter registration drive, junior Lucia Donovan (she/her) talks local politics, upcoming midterm elections and the importance of voting.

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Meira Fiber-Munro (she/they), Staff Writer and Editor

Following a two-day voter registration drive for students, staff, and administration at Ida B Wells High School, organized by Lucia Donovan, a junior at IBW, anticipation for the upcoming midterm elections tomorrow grows, and understanding the critical role of local politics is crucial.

 

“The upcoming gubernatorial race is so important, so much is on the line for Oregonians. There’s three candidates and three different pathways for Oregon’s future. We should all be paying attention.” As Oregon watches the polls and counts ballots, the next generation of voters will seek opportunities to become involved in government before they are of age to vote. Donovan emphasizes the accessibility and ease of learning about local politics and government officials for other high school students.

 

“It’s important to note that once you get involved in government and create connections, you can start to network, and that opens up so many opportunities. Step one is finding out who your representatives are. Once you know who they are, you can reach out to them, volunteer with them, campaign for them, intern for them. There are endless opportunities in government, even for high school students who might feel distanced from politics.”

 

Reflecting on her lifelong interest in social justice, Donovan shares her unique introduction into statewide politics through her parents’ careers. “On take your kid to work day, I’d go to the state capital and meet legislators, so politics have always been a part of my life. However, I’d say that I got involved as my own person through canvassing for this gubernatorial election through Teens for Tina.” Donovan originally connected with Teens For Tina through Instagram, and though this connection deepened her interest in politics, she warns against relying on social media for political updates.

 

“There’s a misconception that you can rely on reposts from social media for political updates, but that’s not true; Even with the little false information warnings on Instagram, social media isn’t reliable, and we need better and more widely accessible resources for young people to learn about local politics. Reposting doesn’t fulfill your civic duty. You have to do real volunteer work and real community engagement.”

 

Despite the amount of young people advocating for social change via social media, it is still a struggle to get them to vote. “As of right now, people aged 18-24 have the lowest voter turnout, which I think is pretty ridiculous, because young people get so fired up, complaining about lack of representation,” she said. “We need to show older generations that we’re just as well thought out and capable as they are. This means volunteering, educating yourself on major issues, on local, national, and global scales, and most importantly voting!”

 

Donovan says she “definitely” plans on voting in future elections, and urges others to register to vote and send their ballots in as soon as possible. “It’s important to vote, not just in presidential elections, but in statewide elections for governors, legislators, senators, and representatives. As a young person, showing up for ourselves and other young people at the polls or through voting by mail here in Oregon is so critical because it’s a staple part of democracy here in the US; which gives citizens like us a voice to express what we need from our representatives.”

 

Contemplating the purpose of the drive, Donovan said “I want to create an accessible space for community members to get involved and spark interest in contributing to society through being a voter, which was an important piece of running this drive. We stayed fully non-partisan while educating people on voter registration, and then talked people through the process of actually voting. I really enjoy campaign work, and I hope that through this drive, I can encourage other students to get involved in social justice and political activism.”

 

If you’re curious about the candidates running for office in the gubernatorial election, take a look at another Headlight article written by staff writer Harper Wicker-Lenseigne; which details the views and goals of the 3 leading candidates, 2022 Oregon Elections: What you Need to Know.