As a history teacher, I’m constantly urging my students to get involved in the political world around them, whether that’s in Model UN, Youth & Government, contacting lawmakers, or handing them a voter registration card on their 18th birthday. Students are often quick to answer the call. Once, some students insisted on reserving the last 10 minutes of class to call their senators to insist on net neutrality legislation. They’ve planned vigils, attended protests, petitioned their grievances, and started working on campaigns of all political stripes. I couldn’t be prouder of them.

Promisingly, Maine sits near the top for young voters; in 2018 the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement found that 36.4% of eligible voters age 18-29 voted in the general election. However, this only accounted for about 10% of the total vote in Maine. Whether it’s lack of ballot access, indifference, cynicism or forgetfulness, we need to dismantle these barriers and empower young people to vote.

It’s a well-worn aphorism that “young people are our future.” But we shouldn’t forget that they’re also our present. We find ourselves in a moment characterized by youth activism and participation that hasn’t been seen in 50 years. I’ve started hearing and seeing activism from young people who had never shown or expressed interest in political issues. Our young people are out there pointing out our systemic injustices, marching for their lives, and fighting disinformation on social media. This is the moment to encourage, guide, and listen to the political actions of young people in our communities. And to young citizens of Maine: Get registered, vote, and keep in the fight.

I will be holding a Young Voters Forum, on Zoom on July 7, for young people to weigh in on issues that matter to them and discuss next steps in political engagement. Details can be found at esbrownell.com.

Ethan Brownell

candidate, House District 106

Pittsfield


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