Abbey Moses, president of College Democrats, and Rachael Shudde, president of College Republicans, address the student body on why they should vote.
Following the national elections in 2014, the United States Census released the Current Population Supplement where it was found that only 19.9% of individuals aged 18-29 turned out to vote. If the results of this survey were a traditional 8-sliced pizza, we, Millennials, ate about 1.592 pieces of pizza. That is terrible. Pizza deserves to be eaten because it is tasty. And votes should be cast because they are important.
Traditionally, political parties have not been expected to campaign directly to younger voters. But following the Obama campaign’s skillful use of social media and technological platforms in 2004 and 2008, the 2016 Presidential Candidates have devoted millions of dollars to become known for their #tweets and Instagram pics. The increased use of the Internet as a campaign tool caused an impressive 41.2% of Millennial voters to turnout in the Presidential election of 2012, according to the Census Bureau. As the social media blitz heats up with the 2016 Presidential Candidates, Trump has caught the attention of Millennials with his masterful, semi-hateful, always shocking use of social media to gain attention. And it is working. He is up in the polls.
There are obstacles presented by state legislation that deter Millennials from voting, such as banning same-day voter registration (you have to register at least 30 days before an election), the banning of out-of-precinct voting (college students must submit an absentee ballot), and photo-ID restrictions (I had to present more ID to vote last year than to get on a plane). However, the low voting rates of Millennials cannot be entirely linked to systemic issues. A large portion of the millennial generation is just too apathetic to vote.
So, to all our apathetic friends out there, the rest of this column is for you.
We totally understand that the processes of registration and voting are confusing. We also understand why you don’t think your voice is heard. We, as the presidents of the political clubs on campus, also sometimes struggle to remind ourselves of the immense value held in the privilege of voting. In order to brainwash you all into active constituents, we will now explain a few of the top reasons that voting is a) cool and b) extremely important to the American political process:
It is our constitutional right to vote, and a collective body of passionate Americans secured that right for us. When democratic voting was first instituted in the United States, only white male property holders could vote. It was not until the Indian Citizenship Act in 1924 that universal voting rights were secured for the entire general public. Sadly, even this did not mean an end to racial and socioeconomic barriers for voting that still plague constituents in the United States today. As educated young people, we have a responsibility to uphold our constitutional right and duty to vote. Furthermore, we have a community responsibility to vote for what we believe will create a more productive and positive society. The diversity among our beliefs is what makes our nation strong. Differing beliefs can unite to create bipartisan compromises that bring positive change. But this can only happen if we elect people to office who are representative of the entire population.
By definition, democracies are systems of government in which the power is granted to the people. Without free and open elections, American democracy would not exist. One third of American Millennials believe their vote is worthless. If our leaders believe that constituents don’t care, they will continue to take advantage of vulnerable people.
It is easy to be lazy about voting when it seems like our right. But in countries all around the world people walk for days to a voting booth, stand in line for hours and risk being killed just to cast a vote. American men and women around the world are fighting to defend our right to cast a ballot. If nothing else, take advantage of your right to vote, because there are people who die for that privilege.
There is a way we can guarantee that our votes are not thrown away, and that is to go and vote. While your preferred candidate may not win the particular election, you participated in the democratic process. We need to reject the idea that a vote is thrown away when our candidate doesn’t win.
As America’s largest generation, we, Millennials, have a lot of work to do. Voting is a way in which we can share our optimism for the future and begin to influence the change we desire to see.
So register to vote. It’s a quick drive down to the Taylor County Courthouse. You’re going to skip chapel anyway, so you might as well do something productive. And then get educated on the candidates. You can establish your own political identity through the quiz available at isidewith.com.
And on March 1, go vote. And celebrate with some pizza.