The dog did not eat your ballot
BENTLEY PORTERFIELD | CONTRIBUTOR
Millennials, what is more annoying: questions about your post-college plans or questions about who you will be voting for in the upcoming election? Yes, politics can be irritating but they also have a major impact on your life. What if I told you that you could have a say in the powerful institution of government? Well, you can, it’s called voting. Not enough millennials take advantage of this privilege. Let’s look past the political clutter in this season’s election and take back the power by voting.
As millennials, we are constantly scrutinized for our lack of participation at the polls: getting us to vote can be as painful as pulling teeth.
An old political ccience professor of mine used to joke about what it would take for students to get out there and vote; saying that they would need to be driven to the polls in a party bus filled with free snacks and shirtless models. While this was a seemingly harmless sarcastic comment on his part, the lack of enthusiasm to vote from our generation is concerning. According to Pew Research Center, only 26 percent of millennials list politics and government as one of their top-three interests.
Sophomore and political science major Kennedy Avery shares her beliefs about older generations’ opinions on our millennial voting issue.
“Their belief that youth are less involved holds credence because it is true, but that does not come out of laziness,” Avery said. “It results from us not being settled in a place in our life where we can commit and involve ourselves in our community. We are still forming our opinions and establishing our identities. I think you should vote if you inform yourself about the candidate’s stances on issues; I do not think you should vote just to vote.”
While millennials get most of the heat, it turns out we are not the only non-voters. With a low voter participation across generations, it appears most older adults are just as turned off by politics as we are. The American Presidency Project found that only 54 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2012 presidential election, which was actually a high turnout compared to previous years. It seems that many Americans don’t consider voting a priority even though it determines the leader of the free world, our commander in chief. As Americans, we are fortunate enough to live in a nation where we have a say in who runs our government.
Abby Schrader shares another concern she has with millennials taking to the polls this voting season.
“I think it is important for millennials to consider their own opinion and not just grandfather what their parents think,” Schrader said. “We need to be individual thinkers and form opinions ourselves.”
The winner of this election will have an immediate and direct impact on our lives. His or her policies will influence important matters such as health care, employment, the economy, climate change, and so much more. A study conducted by Harstad Strategic Research, Inc. found that there are 88 million millennials in the United States and 70 percent of them are registered to vote. With numbers like these, our votes alone could potentially determine the next president. So, let’s do just that. Let’s get organized, vote, and impact our future.
Candidates are not blind to our voting potential; in this voting season, Facebook and Twitter have become a bigger part of the election by targeting the technologically-dependent generation. However, it is our responsibility to move beyond this surface level campaigning. The formulated news headlines and sound bites can be misleading and hard to keep up with. Trust me, I know following the campaign can get tedious and frustrating, but devoting enough time to learn about the candidates’ positions, beyond 140 characters, is crucial to making an educated voter.
For those of you who still may not be convinced, remember, you are affected by politics whether you participate or not. Excuses are hard to defend because the outcome of this election will directly affect your life. If you care about climate change, the economy, gay marriage, abortion, getting rid of the potholes on your street, or war, you are interested in politics.
If you do not voice your opinion when electing government officials, our country will end up with a leader who doesn’t represent the people. Taking the initiative to vote is one step towards changing the reputation of millennials. Unless we begin to act differently, older generations will continue to perceive us as the party bus generation. Despite our reputation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation deems millennials as the most educated generation in history. Let’s act like it and become the most influential.