We can gripe, harp, complain, propose, fight, and cheer to our heart's content, but voting is what counts. American Millennials (those of voting ability ages 19 to 34) have been very engaged about newsworthy topics in the last year, and that engagement can translate into movements and action, largely aided by technology, with social media being particularly helpful. However, if that passionate engagement does not lead to the execution of ideas through voting this November, as it has in recent elections, the civic participation is only started but not fulfilled.
Voting has long been described as a civic duty or the responsibility that accompanies citizenship; in this country, it is not only a responsibility, but also a privilege. The opportunity of a people to have a say in their government has been fought for since the founding fathers began to establish the Constitution. Such democratic principles are not emulated worldwide and participating in the structure of our country is imperative as Americans. This is is no doubt an exciting and momentous election with regards to its candidates—whether you are wooed by the socialistic principles of Bernie Sanders or inspired by the rich a**hole’s maverick motives to “Make America Great again” does not matter, but rather, executing those ideas at the voting booth does. Millennials have a deep care for the issues facing this country, and are aware that they will most effect themselves in the future, however, Millennial voting turnout made up just 13 percent in the last midterm elections, soundly beaten by an aging baby boomer population.
The question becomes: if Millennials are so engaged and so passionate, why don’t they do the one thing that counts in bringing about any type of legitimate change? One thing that holds people back is the misconception that one person's vote doesn't count. This is simply not true—by looking back at the 2000 presidential election, wherein George W. Bush scraped to victory with just a few electoral votes, or the countless local elections that have been decided by fewer than 10 votes, we know every vote truly counts. Another is the obnoxious task of registering. Although this can be daunting, the outcome of having a say in the future of our country should outweigh a few minutes of paperwork. Many states have same day registration, making this easier—look up the registration process of your state to know about procedures and deadlines before they occur! A vast majority of states have polling places that are vast and open late, to accommodate varying work schedules.
Although it truly doesn't matter for whom you vote, it is important to at least try to have information about the candidates for whom you may vote and the issues present. Although the media's portrayal of issues and candidates, or the views of people around you, can shape your own view, removing bias is the best way to truly understand who you will be voting for. Do independent research—know the origins of the issues at hand, know the backgrounds and affiliations of the candidates, watch videos of them speaking, watch interviews of them, imagine what their character would be like if they held office. Making an informed choice best represents our democratic system and makes the most of voting.
So, come November, when we march out of the polls wearing those posh “I Voted” stickers, we will know that we have done our part in participating in our country's future and ours.