Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Many teens turned off by political parties when they register to vote

Ashley Detore, 17, left, and Ana De La Guardia, 17, register to vote recently at Sickles High School. De La Guardia chose a party so that she can vote in primary elections.


Ashley Detore, 17, left, and Ana De La Guardia, 17, register to vote recently at Sickles High School. De La Guardia chose a party so that she can vote in primary elections.

TAMPA — The Sickles High School seniors streaming into the auditorium on a recent Thursday morning had a lot in common. Grouped together, sitting in the green, plastic pull down seats, they chatted about weekend outings and listened to music through headphones jammed into their ears.

Brought together to hear a pitch about voter registration, many of the 17- and 18-year-olds also shared the same reaction about committing to any political party: No thanks.

Some teens, like Matt Salinas, opted to not choose a party, and register with "no party affiliation," a choice that gives him freedom to change his mind.

"Basically, I'm open to both sides," the 17-year-old Hispanic senior said. "I'm open to both ideas to whatever they have to say at the time. I don't exactly know everything about each party and haven't done all the research I need to do yet — you can't just (pick a party) without knowing."

Sitting next to Salinas, Sergio Acuna —who is also 17 and identifies as Hispanic — said he also decided to register with no party affiliation. "(This way) I'm not just on one side," he said.

Their decision comes at a cost: They won't be able to vote in primary elections if not affiliated with a major party.

Ana De La Guardia , a 17-year-old senior, realized that when she opted to register as a Democrat.

"I registered with a party, but I don't really have an . . . affiliation, because I think parties (are) a bad thing," she said, but "in order to vote for whatever special elections, you have to have a party affiliation."

Other seniors who chose to register with a party did so for different reasons: They had strong opinions of their own or their parents' party affiliations influenced them or they just felt pressured to make a choice even if uncertain about their political beliefs.

Cynthia Ledesma, 18, said she felt a lot of teens pick NPA because they don't feel educated enough to make a choice.

"Education has everything to do with it," she said. "We don't (always) have the wisdom, or knowledge . . . on what either side offers, so that's why a lot of people choose to go without a party when they register."

Contact Hanna Marcus at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374. Follow @hannaemarcus.

Many teens turned off by political parties when they register to vote 11/20/15 [Last modified: Saturday, November 21, 2015 5:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tallest building in Pinellas County in search of a new name

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — The name "Priatek" is gone from Pinellas County's tallest building, perhaps to be replaced by that of a much better-known company new to the Tampa Bay area.

    The Priatek name is off of downtown St. Petersburg's tallest building.
 [LARA CERRI  |   Times.  2015]
  2. Video: The scene in Seminole Heights at the sites of three killings


    Tampa police have blanketed the Southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood during their investigation of three shooting deaths over 11 days that they believe to be related.

    Balloons and candles seen along 15th Street where Anthony Naiboa, 20, was found dead on Oct. 19, photographed in Southeast Seminole Heights in Tampa on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. Three shooting deaths in the area in the last two weeks are considered by police to be related.
  3. FBI: Florida man sympathized with IS, wanted to bomb mall


    MIAMI (AP) — A Florida man who described himself as a sympathizer of the Islamic State extremist group faces terrorism-related charges stemming from a purported plot to bomb a Miami-area shopping mall, according to court documents filed Monday.

    An undated file image posted on an extremist website on Jan. 14, 2014, shows fighters from the Islamic State group marching in Raqqa, Syria. The group champions a hyper-religious lifestyle grounded in a self-proclaimed caliphate, but most recruits have a superficial understanding of religion and are largely ignorant in the laws of Islam. [Militant photo, via Associated Press]
  4. Frog Pond restaurant opens new location in downtown St. Petersburg


    There's a new option for breakfast and lunch in downtown St. Petersburg.

    Frog Pond's original location, seen here in 2006, has been open in North Redington Beach for 35 years. A new Frog Pond restaurant opened in St. Petersburg this week.
  5. Estuary wins pier design contest for the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway extension

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — And the winner is… Estuary.

    Voters overwhelmingly supported a pier design called Estuary for the $200-million extension of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Tampa.
[Courtesy of AECOM]