On Monday and Tuesday of this week, it was hard to get around campus without being asked: “Are you registered to vote?” In the 2016 general election, of the 4,829,243 registered voters, only 2,807,676 people actually voted. This translates into a 58 percent voter turnout. According to the US Census, national voter turnout for people ages 18 to 24 was a measly 38 percent.
Why aren’t we voting? On one hand, there are plenty of young adults who are just completely oblivious, and you’ll never convince them the importance of voting. On the other hand, many young adults refuse to go to the polls because of a lack of trust in the political process. Considering the results from the 2016 general election, the latter view is understandable and doesn’t exactly come as too much of a shock.
According to the Pew Research Center, 50 percent of millennials described themselves as politically independent in a 2014 survey. Given, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t voting with the two major parties in the United States, but it illustrated the sheer size of the disconnect between politicians and young voters. Millennials feel like the issues that are important to them are largely ignored in major party platforms.
This illustrates the self-perpetuating hopelessness felt by many young voters. Millennials aren’t voting because politics don’t serve their interests. Politics don’t serve their interests because they don’t vote. It’s a vicious cycle.
The ideal solution would be to form some sort of massive movement to mobilize millennials to vote and effect change in the political process. We’re starting to see this a little bit with Generation Z, just look at the Parkland kids and the March for our Lives. But if voter turnout among millennials was 75 percent instead of 25 percent, issues like the student debt crisis and climate change would rise to top of politicians priority lists.
It’s easy to get discouraged. When you vote, and whoever you voted for doesn’t follow through on campaign promises, it’s easy to lose trust in the political process. Don’t get it wrong, the electoral college and the political process in the United States is outdated and just plain stupid, but at this point in time it’s important to realize that we have to work with the resources we have. Nothing will change (in fact, it will keep getting worse) if we remain apathetic.
Election day is Tuesday, November 6. It is currently less than one month until the midterm elections. If you are dissatisfied with the current direction of the country, it is imperative that you get out and vote.