Monday, Feb. 3, Iowa residents will get the chance to participate in the Iowa caucus. For a new generation, this is the first election in which they will be able to participate.

College freshmen, sophomores and juniors, along with some high school seniors, are new to the process. Often, this younger generation is seen as under-educated about the topics, who is running or how the system operates.

“I know that your individual vote does not directly matter because of the Electoral College system,” Western Dubuque senior, Nathan Vaske, said. “I’m not sure what the caucuses are.”

Iowa has been the first state to hold its caucuses every election cycle since the 1970s. Josie Limmex, government teacher at Western Dubuque, thinks there is a special responsibility that comes with being the first state to caucus.

“With so many of the key issues of elections directly affecting the younger generations,” she said, “not only is it important to be active in the caucus, but to be informed and understand how each specific issue and candidate can impact their futures.”

While all high schools have some form of government class, they can’t teach the students that come through the class everything about caucuses.

“The government class has taught me more about how the voting system works but it has not helped me learn more about the candidates,” Vaske said.

“I think that no matter what your age is, your level of education on the candidates and voting process depends on whether or not you care about voting.”

Limmex said there are opportunities for students to learn about the candidates

“We have so many opportunities to go listen to each candidate and ask questions that matter specifically to you,” she said. “However younger people decide to educate themselves, it’s key that they trust themselves to come up with their own decisions.”

Political ads on television, radio and newspaper will only intensify. Voters will be flooded with information. Vaske said that what he sees in these ads is the only information he knows on the candidates. However, another factor weighs on him as well.

“I definitely think that I would be more likely to vote for someone who my parents vote for,” he said.

“Your vote is precious,” Limmex added, “and if you take the proper steps to become informed, you can really make it count in a way that is most beneficial to you.”