COLUMN: Millennials need to become more involved in voting
Millennials are on the brink of becoming the generation with the largest population in the nation, with more influence on the country’s economy and government than any other living generation.
There’s just one major issue with that — we have the lowest voter turnout of all generations.
According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials (defined in 2016 as those aged 18-35) will surpass the Baby Boomers (those aged 52-70)0 as the nation’s largest generation in 2019. As the aging generation slowly decreases, the Millennial generation will grow to a whopping 73 million.
If there are so many of us, why do so few Millennials vote?
As also reported by the PRC, Millennials have continuously had the lowest voter turnout among generations in presidential elections. In the 2012 election, 46 percent of eligible Millennials voted — compared to the 69 percent of Baby Boomers, and 72 percent of those aged 71 and older.
In November 2016, I was the only one in my group of friends to vote in the presidential election. In fact, according to the PRC, I was among the mere 34 million Millennials who voted in the 2016 election — only 49 percent of the generation.
While Hillary Clinton received a larger share of Millennial votes in the election than President Donald Trump, it is possible that she could have won the presidency if more Millennials had shown up to the polls, due to the fact that 55 percent of Millennials identify themselves as Democrats or Liberals, according to the PRC.
After the outcome of the election, I angrily began to demand to know why my friends and so many others in my generation refused to vote. The answer I heard from almost every single person I asked was, “I didn’t think either candidate was a good choice.”
As someone who wasn’t personally thrilled with the personas and policies of Clinton or Trump, I can almost sympathize with this point of view. If it weren’t for the presidential election primaries, in which we have the ability to vote for who actually become the final candidates, I might even be able to sympathize with those people. However, we had significant power over who became the two final candidates, and we didn’t utilize that power enough.
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning (CIRCLE) estimated in April of 2016 that roughly 4.4 million Millenials showed up to vote in the 2016 primaries. Of those voters, more than 2 million cast their votes for Bernie Sanders. Less than 1.6 million Millennials voted for Clinton and Trump combined.
Sanders had enormous support and popularity among young people, and he might have won if more Millennials had shown up to the primaries. Unfortunately, a great deal of the people my age weren’t even aware of the power the primaries offer us, and we were stuck with two candidates who hardly gave any notice to the issues and policies our generation cares about.
Another reason a lot of my friends have given me for not voting is they don’t believe the outcome of the election will make much of a difference in their lives.
This could not be less accurate.
As the older generations continue to age and die out, Millennials will be the ones most impacted by the current decisions of our government, and we won’t have the older generations to guide us anymore.
Millennials will be the ones responsible for reversing climate change, and facing the consequences of having a president who adamantly does not believe in climate change.
Millennials will be the ones responsible for repairing our damaged relationships with foreign countries, and Millennials will be the ones responsible for ending our devastating opioid crisis, among countless other issues our nation is facing.
Polling for the Michigan state elections will open November 2018. Millennials have another chance to choose our political leadership, as well as being able to vote on a number of ground-breaking issues that will directly impact their lives, like the legalization of recreational marijuana.
The exact measures are still being decided, but according to Bridge Magazine, one of the popular ballot measures that could likely be on the ballot in November is the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which would essentially legalize recreational marijuana for those 21 and older.
Not only could this lower the incarceration rate among Millennials, it could potentially prevent them from becoming addicted to more dangerous drugs, such as opioids. Michigan Millennials also might have the opportunity to vote for increased minimum wage and paid sick leave, among other imperative issues.
So, in the November 2018 election, choose lawmakers and legislation who reflect your ideals and hopes.
If you aren’t registered to vote, you can get registered at your local DMV, or go to vote.gov.
Make your voice heard — we as Millennials have the loudest voice in the nation.