I’m not going to try to convince you that your one vote is going to decide who our next president will be. I also get frustrated by the Electoral College and how it’s almost set up to disregard our votes. But, voting is still a civic duty that able voters should exercise, especially the youth in our country.
According to the borgenproject.org, the millennial generation accounts for one-third of the electorate yet in 2012, less than 50 percent of eligible voters from ages 18-29 voted. This means that a large portion of the population is not letting their voice be heard.
“The fact that younger voters don’t exercise their electoral power as much as older voters do, means that the country and elected officials are much more responsive to older voters,” Jose Marichal, political science professor at California Lutheran University and adviser to the College Democrats, said.
According to borgenproject.org, young voters are more likely to support issues like legalizing same sex marriage or progressive immigration reform. But, if the youth does not show up to vote, then none of these changes will occur.
“Young voters are ideologically different. They’re much more progressive in their topics typically. So if you want progressive politics, then the youth vote is pretty important,” Marichal said.
Yet, these changes will only be reflected if the youth population makes an appearance at the polls. The presidential bid is not the only issue to vote on but also initiatives, state assembly and even local elections.
The decisions on lower levels are more likely to impact students on a daily basis. Decisions regarding police, education, and financial aid opportunities are all made on this ballot. Voting is more than deciding the leader of our country but can also factor into issues that impact our daily lives. It can change the world.
Some people have the tendency to not vote because they assume that their vote will not be a deciding factor in an election. Going through the process and taking advantage of your civic duties is an appropriate reason to vote as well.
“I’m really excited, I actually changed my mail-in ballot to an in-person ballot just so I could drive home and vote…I remember when I was a kid my mom would take me to vote and it makes you want to vote when you’re older,” said Arianna Vanmeeteran, co-president of the College Democrats club here at Cal Lutheran.
Your one vote can also create a domino effect. Walking around with that sticker can motivate a peer to cast their vote as well. Then your one vote can cause other votes and all these may have a significant impact on the election results.
“Your vote isn’t just your vote, the people around you are impacted by your behavior. So if you vote and you put your sticker on that might encourage a few other people,” Marichal said.
Voting is also about the significance of having a voice in a society where this voice signified a cause worth fighting for.
Throughout history, minority groups have fought and suffered for the right to vote that millennials take for granted today.
“You’re sending a message that this isn’t important and the idea the ritual of voting is incredibly important. If you’re not sure that it’s important then think about all the women that went to prison during the suffragette movement to fight for women’s right to vote,” Marichal said.
According to statistics from the borgenproject.org, only 19 percent of all votes cast in 2012 were from young people.
“Democracy depends on people taking an ownership of it and taking some responsibility. So even if it’s, yeah I can back out, I can cheat, I can coast, I can do that. But, if everybody does that then there’s no democracy,” Marichal said.
If everyone thinks their vote doesn’t count and therefore they don’t vote, then democracy can never take place.
So don’t contribute to the cycle that consistently keeps the youth voice silent. Get out there, vote and make your voice heard.