Castor, others urge Millenials to vote in 2016

It's no secret younger people tend to shy away from politics.

That's why, to mark National Voter Registration Day Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D—Tampa), Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer and USF student body Vice President Michael Malanga headed to Tampa's King High School in Tampa.

The hope was to prevent a repeat of the disastrous 2014 midterm election cycle and get the ball rolling for 2016 by starting with the youngest of young voters.

That election remains notable for its lack of turnout, with only 36.3 percent of the national population participating, the lowest mark since 1942. Of that 36.3 percent, 13 percent of was made up of voters under the age of 30, a steep drop from the last midterm election in 2010 when that group made up 24 percent of the voting population.

“One of the reasons that young people tend not to vote is because sometimes we don't have competitive elections,” said Castor. “Well that is never true in the state of Florida. Florida decides presidential elections, our national elections for U.S. Senate are always very close, the gubernatorial elections are always very close. Your vote counts more than in other states. Whether it's a competitive election or not shouldn't be a defining factor. You need to participate. You have no right to complain about the direction of your government if you're not participating.”

The event also marked the beginning of a voter registration contest between high schools in Hillsborough County. King was chosen as the location for the announcement due its victory in the 2014 edition of the contest.

After speaking with the press, Castor and Latimer took the time to speak to a selection of students about the importance of voting while also taking questions on a variety of topics, ranging from the upcoming visit by the Pope to the United State's influence in the rise of ISIS.

“Next November, if you're going to be 18 by then you're going to be voting for President, U.S. Senate, Congress, State Legislature, all the way down to local offices,” said Castor as she addressed the students. “This is a big election, so we want you to be ready.”

While it is very unlikely that the 2016 presidential race will mirror 2014's turnout, Castor made very clear to her soon to be voting age audience the importance they will wield, and their ability to influence the issues they care most about.

“I don't think in a lot of ways student concerns are that different from the concerns of working people. You want opportunities here in America," she said. "You want good jobs to be available when you graduate from college or high school. You want a community that is healthy and growing, hopefully you stay here in the Tampa Bay area and stay in Florida. So, who you vote for mayor, who you vote for nationally is very important.”

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