As a young Alaskan, I can’t overstate the importance of young people registering to vote and engaging in our elections. We are the next generation of leaders and deserve to have our voices heard on matters concerning our future.
Nonetheless, for people my age the process of registering to vote can be daunting. Without the guidance of friends, families, or mentors, many of my peers do not even know where to begin. Alaska needs to simplify this process and remove barriers for underrepresented populations, including people in my age group!
This is why I support Ballot Measure 1, the PFD Automatic Voter Registration amendment, as the best way to ensure that more young people are registered to vote. By connecting the Permanent Fund application to voter registration, Ballot Measure 1 would provide a secure and effective way for Alaskans to register to vote each year.
I am a registered Alaskan voter who is currently out of state while attending college. Even as someone who was very eager to register to vote, I remember the vagueness of the voter registration process and how I had to go out of my way to research and arrange my application. Yet despite the fact that I have already completed my initial registration, Ballot Measure 1 would still directly benefit me since I must currently file for my PFD and separately go through the process of updating my voter registration every year. November 8 will be the first election I have voted in, and I have already sent in my Yes vote on Ballot Measure 1.
Although physically away from the state, I consider being Alaskan an extremely important part of my identity. And as an Alaskan, I also firmly believe that I have an obligation to add my voice to the state’s political processes. Political advocacy is something that defined me throughout high school and will continue to define me as I exercise my right to vote in this great state. Voting and the PFD are two huge aspects reminding me that I am firmly rooted in Alaska, and casting my ballot each year ensures I have a say in the workings of my home state.
On top of the benefits to out-of-state Alaskan college students like me, Ballot Measure 1 would also bridge the gap that many rural Alaskans are faced with when vying to become a part of the political process. Since outreach and instructional materials for voter registration are often limited in rural areas, Alaskans inhabiting approximately 280 rural communities around the state would greatly gain from streamlining this process. If instated, Ballot Measure 1 will help rural Alaskans get voter registration out of the way and instead focus their efforts towards exercising their political voice.
Election Day will be here before we know it, so I encourage those of you that haven’t voted yet to plan in advance and ensure your voice is heard. Do your research and decide for yourself why you should vote Yes on 1 — perhaps you know a college student like me or have family in a rural community. Hopefully you’ll agree that the PFD Automatic Voter Registration initiative is exactly what we need to ensure that each and every citizen’s voice is heard.