WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Voting is among the most fundamental acts of civic engagement in our political system. Voting signifies a willingness to take personal responsibility for choosing elected representatives who in turn shape the public policies that affect our lives. In Oregon and Washington, as in other states possessing the initiative system (where citizens vote directly on ballot measures), voting also constitutes an expression of direct democracy. Voting, as is the case with most forms of civic engagement, is more likely to occur when individuals possess the means to meet their own basic needs. High school completion, for example, is strongly correlated with civic participation later in life, especially voting.[i] Informed voting is most likely to occur when individuals have access to high-quality information and possess the critical skills enhanced by a high-quality education.
[i] K. Mulligan, E. Moretti, and P. Oreopoulos. “Does Education Improve Citizenship? Evidence from the U.S. and the U.K.,” National Bureau of Economic Research, working paper 9584 (2003).