For the last several months, the upcoming election is all anyone can talk about. You can’t use any type of social media or turn on the tv or radio without being bombarded by it. Aside from sharing a funny meme or two, a lot of us may just be fed up with hearing about it. The good news is that we are down to crunch time! And while one of the most controversial elections is coming to an end, we must make sure we take part in this sure-to-be history-making process.
So, why should you vote? First off, it is your right, and a right many people have died to provide to you. As we look back on America’s history, we can recall the Civil Rights era, the women’s suffrage movement, and the Constitutional amendments that have gotten us to where we are today. Secondly, it does affect you in the present and in the future. You should want to have a say in electing the representatives that will fight for you and your rights. Remember, your vote is your voice.
As a millennial, it is even more important to cast your vote! According to npr.com, “millennials are now as large of a political force as Baby Boomers according to an analysis of U.S. census data from the Pew Research Center, which defines millennials as people between the ages of 18-35. Both generations are roughly 31 percent of the overall electorate.”
But, this election is unique for millennials — it marks the first time essentially all the millennials in the country are old enough to vote.
“In fact, millennials continue to have the lowest voter turnout of any age group. Only about 46 percent voted in the last presidential election; compared to 72 percent of the Silent Generation, who habitually punch above their weight.” (npr.com)
So why should you be informed when you go to vote? When I was younger, in high school and college, I didn’t really feel the need to be involved in politics. I foolishly thought “It doesn’t really affect me”. I would vote, of course, but because I didn’t know a lot about any of the candidates or issues, I would just go along with who I heard my family supporting. While these may have been good candidates and aligned with my beliefs and values, I later learned I needed to be able to make that decision for myself and know why I made the decision I did. In elections past, I’d find myself in the voting booth, staring at names I didn’t recognize and always walking out a little ashamed that I had to “guess” which candidate to vote for when there was no party affiliation.
This seems to be a common theme among young people; I have heard this same attitude echoed among many of my friends. We leave the politics and the voting to our parents. But what these people don’t realize is, it is our government too! One day, we will be the parents making these decisions for OUR families! And in order to make the right decisions, we have to know what we are talking about and voting for. As young people, now is the time to become informed!
So this morning, I went to my local Board of Elections and I voted early. I felt responsible and proud to cast my vote, one that I had researched and thought about for the last several months. I felt confident in the process and in myself. Voting is a priceless right for an American citizen, and I hope sharing my story will encourage my fellow millennials to get out there and take advantage of that right!
-Brianna Houchens, Digital Media Coordinator