QUEENSBURY — A young man who won’t be able to vote for two more years is organizing a voting drive for young Democrats.
Jackson LaSarso, 16, of Queensbury, is trying to marshal young people to change the world, since he can’t yet.
He’s offering free food on Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Pizzeria Uno, 900 Route 9, Queensbury. Representatives from the Board of Elections will be available to answer questions about absentee ballots, primary dates and voter eligibility and will sign up voters on the spot. Anyone is welcome, although LaSarso is focusing on drawing in young people from Warren County.
While they’re enjoying the food at Pizzeria Uno, LaSarso plans to personally persuade them to get involved in politics to pressure their representatives to do a better job.
“Our representatives aren’t representing what Americans really want in government and what they need: jobs, a better economy and better health care,” he said. “I don’t really think anyone in politics, on either side, are doing anything on that successfully.”
While the event is ostensibly a drive to sign up new voters, LaSarso wants to talk young people into doing far more than just voting on Election Day.
“Voting is not a one-day process,” he said. “Voting is civic engagement.”
That includes learning how to contact U.S. Representative Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, about specific issues, he said.
“Take the gun issue. You’re not going to get a gun ban here. Can we compromise on the issues? That involves getting together, talking to people, trying to understand the causes — we don’t even agree on the causes yet,” LaSarso said. “I’m going to get them to understand what we can do to get their voices heard.”
Although LaSarso walked in the April March Against Gun Violence, that’s not his focus with this event.
“We have much more important issues,” he said. “Jobs. Health care. One (U.S. House) district can’t have a huge say on jobs, but maybe we can focus on the minimum wage.”
While he’s not sure whether increasing or decreasing the wage would lead to more jobs, he said it’s time to start talking about poverty among hard-working people.
At his school district, 32 percent of the students get free or reduced-price lunch.
“Clearly, we have a huge problem,” he said. “We’ve got to figure out how to incentivize business growth.”
He also noted that many important decisions are decided by a tiny fraction of the electorate, including the federal primary and school budget votes.
“We need to get them aware — this is when you can vote,” he said. “Tell them — why should you care? As an American, you almost have a duty to vote. That is the single best way to have your voice heard.”
LaSarso is also starting a Young Democrats group for Warren County. He and his fellow organizers, many of whom are also in high school, are being supported by the Warren County Democratic Committee.
They got the committee’s attention when LaSarso complained to Queensbury Democratic Committee Chairman Mike Parwana, a family friend.
He told Parwana he was one of a group of young people who felt “the current political climate does not provide us adequate representation,” he said.
That led to the development of a Young Democrats group. Their first action will be an absentee ballot drive to get young college students to vote while away from home.