On March 20th, the date of the Illinois primary, where we selected the candidates of our respective parties, and it went just about as expected; JB Pritzker clinched the Democratic Party nomination, as did Bruce Rauner on the Republican side. These candidates are ones many people my age would consider being "establishment," embodying elitism and wealth, rather than policies that would resonate with them. The issue is this; if younger voters are going to complain ad infinitum about these candidates, why do they not vote?
That is the premise of this; GET OUT AND VOTE, regardless of who it is.
Here in Illinois, the youth turnout was poor; Cook County officials were disappointed with the turnout of younger voters, with some estimates claiming numbers as low as 3%; that is an awful number for any demographic, and it discourages younger voters from turning out in the larger, more important general elections, as the candidate chosen does not epitomize anything they'd like to be associated with, or they are skeptical of that particular candidate (JB Pritzker, for example).
This, in turn, can lead to politicians being elected that they do not like, or politicians that aren't particularly good for a community (this isn't a partisan thing, so no, I'm not saying Democrat or Republican. Keep those comments to yourself). This is also due to things like the two-party system, where neither party really embodies their views, or a lack of any real contact between candidates and younger voters, potentially removing them from consideration as voters.
Voting is such an important right to have, and we should cherish it; it gives us our ability to voice our opinions at the polls. It provides us with an opportunity to dictate which direction our country goes, which policies we want to see implemented, etcetera, etcetera. Alas, this is often "negated," in many minds, by the idea that one vote won't change anything. It can, and does with competitive elections. Even if it didn't, there is a satisfaction to be drawn from voting as well, regardless of party or candidate.
We have seen the youth vote mobilized before; from 2000-2008, voter turnout for 18-24-year-olds increased almost exponentially. Thirty-six percent of eligible young people voted in 2000, and 47% did in 2004. For the 2008 election, turnout spiked, even tripling or quadrupling. But this was a decade ago, and it can't be used now; it just proves that younger voters can be persuaded to vote. Young people should remain politically engaged, and be willing to take the product of their engagements to the polls since these elections can dictate their adult lives.
So, what should we do? Post about primaries. Give dates, candidates, platforms, and positions. Allow these voters to become informed enough to make a decision, and to take it to the polls. Automatic registration for legal US citizens upon becoming 18 would not hurt, either.
When I went to my polling place, it looked barren and empty. It was sad. But also gave me hope, since I know we as a generation can change that, and have people engaged in the civic/political process. It takes time, and it takes effort, but it would surely be worth it to have a generation engaged enough in politics to thoroughly change the American body politic. I know it will happen someday; I can count on it.