Knoxville group works to get young adults to vote

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – As the race for the next United States president heats up, a local organization is trying to get more young adults to vote.

Knoxville’s chapter of the League of Women Voters is making it their mission to reach younger generations and minorities. UT freshman Layla Hasan, 18, says the 2016 presidential election will be the first time she votes.

“I think it’s very important but you also need to learn what’s going on not just go and vote and not know what you’re voting for.”

Related coverage: 2016 Election

She wants a president who will help improve the economy and make education more affordable. Those issues are also what’s important to Austin Jenkins, 21.

“Every vote matters. I would hope that everyone who does vote has an opinion on it, not just, ‘Oh I’m voting for this guy just because he’s Republican or Democrat,’ but have their own views so they can make a good informed decision,” Jenkins said.

The students say they would like to see more programs available to help inform their peers about the issues at hand, and why they should vote.

“We have a priority this year reach out to people who are traditionally less likely to go to the polls, so that includes minorities and also young people,” said Rynn Dupes, president of Knoxville’s chapter of the League of Women Voters.

To do this, her group hosts forums, creates voter guides, organizes voter registration days and stays on top of social media.

“I think it’s incredibly important to be informed any way you can. I think it’s important no matter what side you’re on to watch debates from both sides, to be open minded and pay attention to the facts,” Dupes said.

She says the organization will host an online democratic debate watch party Tuesday night.

Several debate watch parties are also planned throughout East Tennessee. The Third and Fourth District Democrats are hosting a debate party at Big Fatty’s, 5005 Kingston Pike, starting at 7:30 p.m. Attendees can RSVP online.

The Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders campaigns are hosting a joint debate watch party at Carleo’s Lounge, 117 S. Central Street. Doors open at 8 p.m. The University of Tennessee College Democrats are meeting at Evolve Apartments, 901 Mountcastle Street.

A debate watch party is also planned at Barley’s Maryville, 128 W. Broadway, beginning at 8 p.m.

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