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Press Release

Release Date: October 21, 2022
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

Alyssa Lawalin, 21, describes this year’s election cycle as a learning process. Registered to vote in tribal elections since she was 18 years old, Ms. Lawalin opted out of participating in federal, state and local elections. She did not feel like a qualified voter due to lack of awareness of candidates, platforms and policies, she said.

Not this year.

A new job in the communications industry introduced Ms. Lawalin to voter resources, including Vote Your Values. It piqued her interest. She registered to vote in time for the June primary elections and began educating herself about the election process.

“I really started to learn where to look for information through the Vote Your Values website,” Ms. Lawalin said. “It really did open my eyes to (realize) I’m old enough to vote. This is my life, my future, why am I not participating in voting?

“It just seemed like it was the time for me to really start to figure out what I should be doing with my future in terms of who we are electing.

“One day, I will be older and the people who are in office now will have paved the path for years. The decisions they make now are going to affect me in the future,” the Ada, Oklahoma, resident said.

Her first trip to the polls for the June primary elections caused Ms. Lawalin a bit of anxiety, which quickly subsided when she cast her vote.

Her polling place was “just around the corner.” When her ballot was cast she described voting as, “Painless. It was so easy,” she said.

Doing your own research on candidates and their platforms is one way to avoid feeling overwhelmed on Election Day.

“I can see why people my age might be intimidated to vote, because you just have names, and if you don’t know who you are going to vote for (it can be confusing). Do your research and find what the candidates’ goals are for our state.”

Before voting, she decided to “take the time, research the candidates and do my homework so I was able to have my say in who I wanted to be elected as our representatives.”

Ms. Lawalin recommends researching candidates and their social media presence, as well as researching any bills or issues beyond the headlines and sound bites.

Most of all, she urges everyone to exercise their right to vote. Especially the younger generation, because of the impact elections have on the future.

“It might be taking 30 minutes to go vote, but 30 minutes is not anything compared to what the possibility is. As a young individual, we do have a voice, we do have an avenue. Why aren’t we using it?” she said.

One reason is young people do not feel educated enough to cast a vote that reflects their beliefs and values, Ms. Lawalin said.

“They can register but might not vote, because no one is taking the time to explain to them the significance or why they need to vote.”

She implores older generations to talk to younger people in a nonpolitical way about the importance of voting.

“Focus on the ‘why’ and not the ‘who,”’ she suggests.

More effort to educate young people about voting could lead to a turnaround from low voter turnouts and general apathy, she said.

Throughout this election cycle, Ms. Lawalin has discovered she does not lean toward any particular party but weighs each candidate’s values against her own.

 “I am just an individual who wants the best for my future, my family’s future and my children’s future.”

Destination: Vote

Voting is a fundamental right that allows citizens to shape their country and communities.
On average, less than half of Oklahoma voters vote in the general midterm election, with only 49.7% voting in the 2018 general midterm election.

Make sure your voice is heard this election day. Have conversations with family, friends and neighbors. Verify that everyone has a plan and is ready to vote. Assist them with finding their polling place or offer to ride together to the polls.

In-person absentee voting, or “early voting,” is available to all voters.
The week immediately preceding the Nov. 8 general election, designated early voting locations are open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Voters must cast ballots in the county where they registered.

Visit Oklahoma.gov/Elections/Voters/Early-Voting for more information.
Find your polling place and view a sample ballot at OKVoterPortal.OKElections.us.
For more information, visit VoteYourValuesOK.com.