There are 31.5 million voters between the ages of 18-24 making up almost 10 percent of the United States population. The participation of young voters in presidential elections has declined since 1964 from 50 percent to about 38 percent in 2012.
In 2016, young voters have the power to swing the presidential election in their favor. Republicans and Democrats alike need to appeal to issues they are passionate about if they want the seat in the Oval Office.
Keeping up with the current trends of this age group, presidential candidates should develop opinions and possible solutions for the four E's: economy, education, environment and equality.
Raising the Minimum Wage
The current federal minimum wage is $7.25. Some cities like Seattle, Washington have taken matters into their own hands, and decided to raise the wage to $15 an hour. A new Senate proposal supports the idea of raising the federal minimum wage to $12 by 2020.
Reducing Income/Wealth Inequality
There a multiple ways to go about this issue: restructuring tax codes and social programs, redefining the poverty line, etc.
Cost of Higher Education
Millions of youth are going to be (or are currently) dealing with $20,000 - $100,000+ in student loan debt from rising college tuition costs. President Obama proposed free two year college at the State of the Union Address in January. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, US Senator from Vermont, recently proposed a College For All Act which would make four year universities free.
Funding for K-12 Education
Hundreds of school districts across the nation have experienced a lack of funding from state and federal governments. These budget cuts have led to art, music, and sports programs being reduced or eliminated completely. Class sizes have increased, and teacher pay has decreased as well.
Emphasis on Standardized Tests
Being directly affected by No Child Left Behind after 2004, young voters were the guinea pig generation for annual standardized testing. SAT and ACT tests falsely told them that they were prepared (or unprepared) for college education. Our education system is outdated, and we have reduced our students to series of numbers and pencil-filled scantrons.
Investment in Wind, Solar, and Other Renewable Energy Sources
Weaning off fossil fuels will help us curb our greenhouse emissions, and create jobs.
Eco-Friendly Infrastructure and Products
Using recycled materials and more can help us reduce waste and reduce our carbon footprint.
Sustainable Practices for Water Containment and Agriculture
The severe drought in California is cause for alarm in terms of water usage and agriculture production. There needs to be a plan for the future in terms of assisting farmers and citizens through extreme weather changes.
Criminal Justice Reform
This should include: prison reform, decriminalization of marijuana, reduction of racial profiling by law enforcement, provide assistance for those who leave prison, etc.
Right to Marry
The Supreme Court will decide if states have the constitutional right to ban same-sex marriage later this summer, but presidential candidates opinions about the subject could still be weighed heavily.