South Dakota young adults gearing up for Election Day

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Election Day is just over two weeks away, and candidates from all over the state are gearing up. Young adults in communities across the state play a huge role in getting the word out for the candidates.

The biggest concentrations of young voters are on the state’s college campuses like Black Hills State University and the University of South Dakota. But statistically, young adults have the lowest voting rate.

According to the “South Dakota Dashboard,” an online data aggregate, in the 2016 election, people between the ages of 18 and 24 had the lowest turnout with around 37 percent. The Dashboard says 75 percent of people between the ages of 65 and 74 cast ballots while 73 percent over the age of 75 voted.

Local Democrats and Republicans are getting involved by going door-to-door, waving signs and making calls.

Levi Kessler, the president of the Black Hills State University College Republicans, spends 5 to 10 hours a week stumping for votes.

“I get the people who don’t know any candidates and then the people who just don’t care,” said Kessler. “You’re going to have all sorts of groups of people like that. It’s fun though, all about shaking hands, going across the state, learning names and taking notes.”

Local Democratic candidates and volunteers are also gearing up and connecting with young voters.

Naveen Malik, a graduate student at Black Hills State University running for the State House in District 31, has been going door-to-door and visiting people all over Lawrence County.

“To be honest, as a young person, I didn’t know if people would take me seriously or how people would respond,” said Malik, “but I’ve gotten a fantastic response people are really excited for change and a new voice in Pierre.”

South Dakota governor candidates Kristi Noem and Billie Sutton have both said they have made an effort to reach out to the younger generations as well. Noem at a campaign event in Spearfish, said she’s toured college campuses and talked about developing new jobs for young adults.

“One of the saddest things I see is kids that have to move out of state to get the job that they want,” Noem said. “I’ve talked a lot throughout this campaign about the need to get new industries here. Technology, cyber-security, biotech – that’s really the future of South Dakota.”

Democrat Billie Sutton had a similar message at the Democratic Roundup in September, saying he’s reached out to young professionals all over the state to hear their concerns.

“We’ve engaged folks on all levels in this race and of all party affiliations,” said Sutton. “People are ready for something new. That’s what I represent, a move away from politics as usual and the status quo.”

But no matter the party, thousands of young people will vote on Nov. 6.

Categories: Local News, Politics & Elections, South Dakota News