Did you know that there was an election for Illinois on March 20th? Did you vote? Chances are, this will be a no for you as only 31% of Illinois population of eligible voters turned out for the 2019 Midterm primaries. Of course that statistic varies in age group with older adults between the ages of 54-74 turning out at 42% while Millennials, ages 35-20, turned out at only 3% according to an article by CBS This might seem frustrating to those who are politically active. It might seem like citizens are not jazzed about politics as much as they should be. It seems lazy. How hard is it to just go out and vote? Politics affect you on the day to day, and it’s especially important now in today’s political climate if you’re left wing because we have a Republicans in the house, senate and the White House causing all kinds of chaos!
The thing is, it’s not that simple. It’s not because young voters are too lazy or too engrossed into things that are so trivial like what to binge on Netflix or the coolest fidget spinner tricks. This isn’t true. In general, voting average for Midterms is always very low because it’s not advertised as important. It’s the off year. News channels talk endlessly about the general elections and make a huge specticle. But Midterms and Midterm Primaries aren’t reported endlessly because they aren’t seen as interesting news stories. Voting turnout is always low. In the midterm election in 2014, it had been the lowest it had ever been since World War Two at 36.4% nationwide according to Huffington Post. While this voting drop is extreme, it’s not necessarily new. In 2008, voter turnout had been 57.8% of the voting population, but the following midterm had a drop to 35.9% according to Pew Research. But again for Obama’s re-election in 2012, it jumped back up to 53.7. In 2016, the voter turnout was 60%.
The interesting thing is in this recent election in Illinois, the voter turnout was historically high for Democrat voters with 1.3 million Illinois voters casting a Democratic Ballot while only 700,000 casted a Republican ballot according to ABCs news story on the election. As it has been in previous offseason elections, there tends to be a really low democratic vote and that tends to cost them. In the 2014 election, the Democrats lost several important seats in the house and senate which lead to a gridlock between parties. This loss led to the crisis with the Affordable Care Act which led to the Government Shut Down, as well as a stop to a lot of bills the Obama Administration tried to pass because the Republicans wanted to work against everything Obama tried to put on the table.
This year, I expect that we will find a higher Democratic turn out because they realize just how important all this is. When they had the Obama Administration they felt sort of safe. Unfortunately, we aren’t really taught how much of an impact midterms can be and primaries can be. Personally, I don’t remember being taught in highschool about the importance of Midterm elections. We mostly covered the general election and spent a couple class periods explaining what the heck is an electoral college. And if we did learn about it, that was just completely forgotten about just like Algebra.
Older voters have been doing this thing for a while. They understand the voting process now and understand when elections are and what they are usually for. If you’re young like me, it’s very difficult to even find information on the election itself including who is even going to be on the ballot. If you work more than one job, where will you find time to vote? What if you are in college and live in a dorm? You can’t vote in the state you are dorming in because you’re technically not a legal resident. And young voters don’t have stability in their lives yet. They most likely moved that year or changed their name or their job and figuring out how to register or where to vote takes a lot of planning that some people don’t have time for. And then the final issue: some people have absolutely no idea that there’s an election. My roommate had absolutely no idea that there was an election today and it completely flew under his radar. The same thing almost happened to me because I only knew about the exact date because I saw a random flier on the campus of my significant others school. I saw nothing on any social media except maybe a few friends who posted about early voting. Nothing reminding me to “go vote.” And if you think that’s unnecessary, in the 2016 election they did that and there was a high voters turnout for young voters because they reached out on social media.
The thing is, we have a problem. It is very important that we get the young vote out because we make up so much of the population. There are more millennials now than there are baby boomers and the millennials are the most diverse generation with a high amount of people of color than white people which is a big deal if you want to vote for someone who represents your communities needs. The midterms in November are a big deal. If there are enough votes, there is a chance that we can flip the senate and take out the republican seats. We need to take back the senate so that Democrats can have a voice and fight against the Trump administration. I hope that people will be just as adamant about getting voters to the polls as they were in 2016 because this election matters.