Empowering the future: Why voter registration matters for young adults

The late evening news on KEVN Black Hills Fox Monday-Friday
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 11:30 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Registering to vote as a young adult is an important step toward shaping the future. Millennials represent a huge portion of eligible voters, but they actually go to the polls in much smaller percentages. Voting is a habit formed over time; therefore, younger adults are less likely to head to the polls. That’s according to The New York Times.

This is why South Dakota Secretary of State Monae Johnson created the ‘Gladys Pyle Award’ as a way to encourage young voters to participate in the electoral process.

“And I think what we’ll see, if we’re successful, is that voter participation in future years is going to go up. Because if students participate right away at 18 and 20 years old, they’re still probably going to be participants. I have not really missed an election since I was 18. But only because I had people who encouraged me to get involved. If nobody had done that, I don’t know if I did it on my own,” Paul Kilipinen, Black Hills State University provost.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49.1% of individuals aged 18 to 24 are registered voters, but only 27.6% voted in the November 2022 election. However, according to Black Hills State Provosts, these numbers may see an increase as students, motivated by their desire for improvements and social change, registered to vote during Tuesday’s drive.

“I always try to make that impact of saying it’s their chance to try to make a voice out of themselves, and even though one of my siblings is like, I don’t want to vote, I’m always trying to push that on to them,” Elyssa Hauser, BHSU student.

The ‘Gladys Pyle Award,’ which was created this year by Johnson, pays tribute to South Dakota’s first female politician. Gladys Pyle served in the state house from 1923 to 1927 and was secretary of state between 1927 and 1931. Johnson wants to use the award to encourage high school and college students to get involved in local politics and used Tuesday, National Voter Registration Day, to help announce the award.

“When I saw the information about National Voter Registration Day, which came from the National Association of Secretaries of State, so it’s a nationwide program. Pick a day, and let’s get out and vote. So I wanted to actually present an award that honored someone, and this is an incredible woman. So I mean, she is someone that we can look up to, to be the first woman elected to the United States Senate,” said South Dakota Secretary of State Monae Johnson.

For details on the Gladys Pyle Award, check here.