In just 37 days, Midterm Elections will take place. In Southwestern Pennsylvania, there has been a trending increase of voter registration, specifically, within a younger demographic.
Kelly Watson, Chair of Communications for the Washington County Democratic Committee, said there are multiple reasons for the increase.
“It used to be that if you wanted to register or change your registration, it was by paper in the mail or you had to go to the elections office,” said Watson. “Now there are websites and also apps where you can do it, so that’s one of the reasons why: it’s more accessible.”
In addition to the greater accessibility, Watson said that there is a greater emphasis, recently, to encourage people to register.
Even more significantly, Watson said, young voters seem to be motivated to vote due to the current state national politics.
Watson said the increase is significant for this area, because here, getting people out to vote can be a challenge, and the vote of young people can become crucial.
“Every vote is important right now,” Watson said. “People are realizing now that the youth vote brings a new perspective, but also brings a new energy.”
After getting young people registered, the goal then becomes to inform them about buzzing topics in the political conversation–what is going on in the area–Watson said.
“The overall mission is to get young voters informed, get them involved, really listen to them and see what issues are of concern,” said Watson.
When it comes to listening to young voters and what their concerns are, Watson said that it depends on who you ask.
“If you ask younger women what their concerns are, the #MeToo movement is enormous right now. And these are on a national level: equal rights, equal pay, equal opportunity,” said Watson.
Where everyone starts to come together in their concerns, Watson said, is healthcare—a topic so far-reaching that it often overlaps with other political subject matters.
“In this area right here of Southwestern Pennsylvania, the main issues are financial,” said Watson. “You have kids considering college or coming out of college and they are facing student loan debt. They are worried about what their future is going to look like and what kind of tax rate they are facing.”
Controversies around finances influence voters’ healthcare concerns, Watson said.
“Healthcare is really big,” said Watson. “You have the capability right now of staying on your parents health insurance until you are 26, if you are student. But not everyone is a student. There are people out there in the working world whose jobs don’t offer any kind of healthcare coverage.”
The trend in Greene County is consistent with state-level data. In Pennsylvania, health care is among the top political topics searched in the past week.
Watson encourages all people to not only register, but to actually go out and vote.
“Our legislators are elected to work for the people and represent their interests,” said Watson. “Voting is our chance to have a say in who is speaking for us.”