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Registering to vote is vital and it is an opportunity teenagers gain at age 16.

SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO - Alyson JohnstonYoung adults and voting: You've seen the numbers, you've heard the statistics and you know the situation. Adults aged 18-29 don't go to the polls nearly as much as they should. Only 50 percent of the nation's eligible young people — about 24 million youth — voted in the 2016 election, according to CIRCLE's post-election estimate.

There has always been a fairly significant deficit between young adult voters and voters over 30. For example, in the 2008 general election, only 51 percent of the 18-29 age group voted in comparison to a 67 percent turnout of eligible voters over 30, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Oregon is definitely one of the more advanced states in terms of voting accessibility. Oregon has mail-in ballots, which have been proven to increase voter participation, as well as a relatively new statewide Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) system. Being the first in the nation, the new AVR system returned the highest youth voter turnout Oregon has ever seen, according to Oregon Live.

Even though young adults are registered to vote, though, that doesn't necessarily mean they are actively participating in elections. Again, the 2008 election proves that only 84 percent of registered young adults voted, while 91 percent of adults over 30 cast a ballot, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Registering to vote is vital and it is an opportunity teenagers gain at age 16. This is a great opportunity for high schoolers to begin to think about how they want to use their voice.

While many teenagers didn't have the opportunity to vote in this year's midterms, some high school seniors and recent graduates had their first opportunity to give their input on some of Oregon's local and statewide issues.

Voters recently had the chance to cast their ballots for governor, as well as five important ballot measures. Having young people give their input on these issues is so vital to our democracy. When millenials remain quiet on these important issues that affect everyone, we miss out on the voices of so many. Voting is something that everyone 18 and older can and should do.

Oregon makes it so easy to vote. Having AVR as well as mail-in voting takes away a huge burden that other states unnecessarily put on voters. There really is no excuse to not make your voice heard on issues that affect your future.

Being politically active as a teenager is something I am proud of. I have registered to vote, taken part in various demonstrations and written to my representatives about issues I care about.

Alyson Johnston is a junior

at Wilsonville High School.

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