Alabama saw only 22% voter turnout on Tuesday’s special election, which might make it seem like people simply aren’t engaged in the political process. But look no further than local high schools and you’ll see a new generation of teens who are interested and excited about politics, despite most of them not yet being able to vote.
Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey spoke with a group of those students Wednesday. Ivey impressed upon the Sparkman High School Young Republicans and Democrats the importance of their role as citizens of the United States.
“There is even a higher office than Lieutenant Governor, Governor, or even President. The highest office is citizen of the United States,” said Ivey.
More than 50 students came to listen to Ivey speak, and say they aren’t using the fact that many of them can’t vote as an excuse to not pay attention.
“We really are the future leaders of America,” said Claire Langford, treasurer of Sparkman High School’s Young Democrats Club. “I know that’s cliché, but we are going to be voting and selecting our future leaders.”
Students like Langford, and Chandler Shields, President of the Young Republicans club, say even if they can’t vote now it’s important to know what’s going on in their country, state, and city.
Shields says as a student, whose mother is a teacher, she followed Alabama’s budget crisis and Tuesday’s special election.
“This is our education system and I could have been directly affected if money had been slashed from the education budget,” said Shields.
“I understand why this had to be done,” agreed Langford. “I wish there was a better plan to replenish the fund, but I’m confident they will figure it out soon.”
Members of the clubs make a point to attend the meetings of their political counterparts, saying they want to hear both sides to stay informed.