‘Our Future Also Counts’: An 18-Year-Old Phoenix Teen on Why She’s Voting in  the Midterm Elections

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By Araceli Cruz

October 25, 2022

The midterm elections will draw millions of new and first-time voters. 

There are an estimated 8.3 million newly eligible young voters for the 2022 midterm elections—meaning, youth who have turned 18 since the previous general election in November 2020, according to data from Tufts University. 

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These 18- and 19-year-olds make up 16% of the 18-29 age group for the 2022 election. They include approximately 4.5 million white youth and 3.8 million youth of color: 2 million Latinos, 1.2 million Black youth, 500,000 Asians, and 80,000 Native Americans.

In Arizona, youth voter turnout has been on the rise, increasing 16 percentage points (10% to 26%) from 2014 to 2018 and 18 points (33% to 51%) between 2016 and 2020. Young voters in Arizona in 2020 made up 26 times the margin of victory in the presidential race and seven times the margin of victory in the Senate race.

Enthusiastic About Voting

Mirella Pallares has been looking forward to voting since she was 13 years old. Now that she has turned 18, the Phoenix resident is beyond thrilled to be voting for the first time in the midterm elections. 

As a field organizer for NextGen America—the nation’s largest youth voting organization–Pallares is making sure her friends and family are right alongside her making their voices heard at the voting booth. 

Pallares spoke with The Copper Courier about her work to increase voter turnout among her peers for the 2022 election.

Copper Courier: When did you first decide you were going to vote in the midterm election?

Mirella Pallares: I honestly decided I would vote when I was (laughing) 13 years old. I started getting involved in politics because of my older brother. He was an organizer himself.

I had nothing to do that summer, and he was, like, ‘Come on. Let’s get some vitamin D. Let’s go canvas, let’s get some people registered to vote.’ And then I kind of just, like, fell in love with being involved in the movement and everything. I really felt like I was doing something.

I would always hear people say, ‘Oh, I can’t vote,’ or, like, ‘I don’t wanna vote. My vote doesn’t count.’ And it really frustrated me because, as a 13 year old, I had some understanding of, like, what was going on, and it was frustrating. It’s super important. And, so, ever since then, I was like, ‘As soon as I turn 18, I’m going to register to vote on that same day, and I will, I will vote for every election after that.’

CC: Why are the midterm elections important to you?

MP: This election is super important to me because it will determine who controls our state. I’ve lived here all my life. They’re going to be the ones making big decisions that affect my future. 

CC: What is your advice to voters who feel like their vote doesn’t count or they’re just not motivated to vote?

MP: I have a lot of conversations with people who tell me the same thing, like, ‘My vote doesn’t count,’ or ‘They’re just going to do whatever they want.’ And then I bring up the fact—I’m, like, ‘Oh, do you have kids? Do you have nieces or nephews? Because they are also the next generation. Our future also counts.’ 

That’s at least one way to open up the conversation about voting, and they’re, like, ‘You know what? Actually, that’s a really good point.’

Our community really needs to be out there and make our voices heard.

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CC: As a first-time voter, what are some of the issues that are important to you? 

MP: There are a lot of issues that are important to me. Abortion is a big one for me. I feel like all females should have the ability to make their own choices because—I mean, it is our own body. 

A man will never know what it’s like to have to carry a child. They’ll never have to know about the—they’ll never know the experience, so why is it okay for you to decide on something that you can never experience? 

And then, of course, we have issues in health care access. And then, a big one for me is racial immigration justice. There are so many racists against immigrants, and I hate that because I don’t understand how a person can be illegal.

We are people. 

I do have an immigrant father who was deported when I was three years old, and that caused me to lose my relationship with him because he’s so far away. 

RELATED: North Valley Residents: Here Are Your Candidates for Arizona Legislature

CC: Among your friends and family, do you feel they are motivated to vote in the midterm elections?

MP: I know that for my family, a lot of the outreach comes from my brother and me. We’re always encouraging them, like, ‘Hey, you need to go out and vote because it’s important.’

I’m actually having (laughing) a birthday party this weekend, and I can’t wait to talk to all of them and be, like, ‘Please, please, please make sure you have your ballot in by the 31st or at least go drop it off.’ 

As far as my friends, they’re like, ‘Okay, well, if you think it’s important, then I should do it.’ And I feel like that happens a lot. I feel like people get peer pressured. 

But then some people are, like, ‘Yeah, no, I don’t want to.’ But then that just pushes me and motivates me to go ten times harder to open up that conversation again and get them to want to vote.

CC: Do you feel like you might have a future in politics? 

MP: I have always thought about it. I play this little joke with my brother because I would always tell him, ever since I was 13 years old, like, ‘You know I’m just training you so that I can get you in office (laughs),’ but then he says he’s training me to get me in there. And I always tell people like, ‘I’m gonna be president one day, so make sure you (laughing) remember my name.’ 

So, I hope one day that maybe I will have a future in politics, but right now, I just want to experience everything. Like, I also want to be a teacher. I want to be a flight attendant. I want to travel. There are so many opportunities, and I feel like I can do it all.

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  • Araceli Cruz

    Araceli is Copper Courier's social media manager. Her past work has been published in The Guardian, Teen Vogue, Refinery29, Mic, The Cut, Zora, The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, and others.



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