The right to vote is constitutionally promised to every eligible American citizen over the age of 18. In the world of politics, there is a stigma that young Americans don't vote. Why don't we?
November 6th marks Election Day for the United States.
According to the Student Vote Project, despite making up 21% of the voting population, only 17% of young adults (ages 18-24) cast ballots for the 2014 midterm elections. More recently, the lack of voter turnout amongst young supporters played a factor in the Democratic loss of the 2016 election. Despite countless campaigns, celebrity endorsements and candidate support, young Americans just aren't making it to the polls.
I remember the first time I registered to vote, it was right after my 18th birthday. Aside from setting up my own bank account, it was the first "adult" task I accomplished. Naively, I thought I only needed to vote for the presidential election and I would be good. Needless to say, I was wrong. As I grow older and pay more attention to the world around me, I notice things that need to be changed.
Think of the issues that matter to you. Whether it's our education system, immigration, taxes or environmental policies, find a candidate whose views are aligned with yours. Recent controversies such as the Kavanaugh hearings, have many of us frustrated those in power. Midterm elections are the opportunity to have your voices heard.
It is very important to remember that voting is a privilege that we are fortunate to have. Women were not allowed to vote until 1920 when the 14th Amendment was ratified. The right to vote also played a large role in the civil rights movement. African Americans fought for the right to vote only to be subjected to systemically racist literacy tests and other methods to prevent them from doing so. It wasn't until 1965, when President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, that African-Americans were truly free to vote. As an African-African woman, I appreciate voting in a different way. Knowing that people put their lives at risk for me to be able to do so motivates me even more to vote.
The 2016 election was ultimately a turning point in how our generation views voting. However, voting turnout in our age group is not vastly improving. According to Vox, only 28 percent of young adults are certain that they will be voting in the primary elections.
As college students, I believe we underestimate our power. We are literally the voices of the future. If we use our power to its full potential, who knows the impact it would have on politics. Don't just post your frustrations on social media, go out and vote.