J.T. Creedon will be watching local voter turnout carefully this election—particularly among 18-24-year-olds. As head of the 300-member Nevada Youth Coalition, Creedon spends his spare time persuading young adults that civic engagement can effect change. Are they buying it? Strong representation at the polls this election season would be a good sign that they are.
What does the Nevada Youth Coalition do in the political realm?
We wanted to do voter registration and get our fellow youth to the polls. So we started a [nonpartisan] program this year that registered more than 3,000 young adults to vote and got an additional 1,200 to pledge to vote. We canvassed to reopen Circle Park, and we advocated on behalf of education issues during the 2011 legislative session.
What do you think is the most common misconception about “the youth vote”?
That young people are disengaged. Youth are largely engaged and passionate about what’s happening in the world and how it affects them. They’re curious and always seeking to learn about or get involved in issues they feel are important. Recently, during an event to encourage early voting at UNLV, nearly every other student we talked to was wearing an “I voted” sticker.
What do you think is the prevailing truth about young people and politics?
They are less partisan, less interested in the back-and-forth that occurs during election season and more issues-driven. When you take the time to engage them directly and substantively, they’re more interested in hearing what you have to say.