Fresh voices welcome in upcoming elections

We were encouraged to learn that many of the territory’s young people have registered to vote in recent months.

Moreover, most of the first- and second-time voters interviewed for the Beacon’s special report last week are keenly aware of important issues facing the territory — and said they plan to take these issues into consideration before making a decision at the polls.

This is good news indeed. The informed participation of young people is a major boon to any democracy.

In a time when teenagers and 20-somethings increasingly are being arrested for serious crimes, these voters serve as a reminder that the vast majority of Virgin Islands young people are law-abiding citizens who contribute positively to the community.

We hope that any eligible voters who have not yet registered will do so as soon as possible.

But simply voting is not enough. All voters have a responsibility to learn as much as they can about the candidates and relevant election issues in order to make sound decisions at the polls. This lesson is particularly important for young voters, who might have less experience of the territory’s affairs than their elder counterparts.

We hope, then, that young people will make every effort to educate themselves on current events and recent history, even while paying close attention to the dialogue in the coming campaigns. Then they will be better prepared to make decisions based on what is best for the territory.

To say nothing of the personal fulfilment that comes with voting, young people can make a real difference here. One need only consider the recent uprisings in the Middle East to understand how the younger generation can help transform a nation. Besides, the younger segment of any population stands to be most affected by leaders’ decisions.

In the coming months, election candidates should make a special effort to reach out to young voters by clearly explaining their ideas and platforms — and, perhaps most importantly, by listening. After all, young people are the territory’s future.