Some voters cast first-ever ballots for local elections
Ardmore High School teacher Lindsey Walker has been talking to students in recent weeks about the importance of being an active voter. With a polarized national election months in the past, Walker and some of Ardmore’s youngest voters now have their eyes on local issues.
On the first day of early voting for two races for the Ardmore City Commission on Thursday, AHS faculty and at least one student traveled to the Carter County Election Board. For some, it was the very first ballot ever cast in an Ardmore election.
For senior Jennifer Riddle, voting is not particularly new considering her first election was last November. After casting her first ballot in a municipal election, she said she would have voted in local races even if her teachers had not taken her.
“I started to realize that your vote does matter, even if you are young, and I feel that’s what a lot of students fail to realize,” she said.
Riddle and her classmates have been discussing the importance of voting for months. Walker said she learned through these discussions that young people are not disengaged from local politics for a lack of want, but because of a lack of information.
“Once having the conversation about how many of them are actually registered voters to implement some of the things they want to see, many of them were not,” Walker said on Thursday.
Many of the conversations Walker had with her students taught her that young people in Ardmore may feel overlooked as decisions are made about the city’s future. She reminded them that young people need to stay engaged if their voices will be heard.
“Many of them felt that there wasn’t really a focus on young minds and the youth in Ardmore,” Walker said. “They do have a really fresh perspective and have the vision to progress this city forward.”
Riddle said that much of her focus has been on national politics and admitted she is still learning about what local issues are important to her.
But one issue for the high school senior was obvious, and that is a desire to see more young people active in local politics.
“I think that if you’re young you should try to register to vote at least. When you are readily available to vote, vote because it’s very important,” Riddle said.