Young voters might be the most important of all
By Duncan Cicero
Freshman Music Therapy Major
The right to vote is one of the most crucial aspects to a Democracy. It allows us to have our voice heard, so we can decide who we think it fit enough to represent us in our government. But how many of us actually exercise our right to vote?
Young voters aged from 18 to 24 years old have the lowest voting rates out of all age groups. In the 2014 midterm elections, only 21 percent of registered young voters participated in the election process. Although this year’s midterm elections reached 31 percent of young voters, it is still an alarmingly low number.
One important thing that should be kept in mind is that once a person votes for the first time, they will usually continue to participate in following elections. The corollary is true as well; the longer citizens wait to cast their first vote, it becomes increasingly difficult to ever start voting. Young people should get involved in the political process as early as possible to become familiar with it and to be fully represented in their government.
Studies have shown that issues most important to young voters are racial tensions, equality, minimum wage, gun control, the job market and the economy. Yet many young voters rely on excuses to explain why they didn’t vote such they don’t have the time wait in line to vote, or just never got around to registering to vote because it was complicated. Those excuses demonstrate that that there is a clear problem with the way voting is done in the United States.
Fortunately, there are many way to change that. Ways to address the problem could include mandatory voting as many other countries do, automatic voting registration or only voting by mail. Oregon and Washington already only have voting my mail, so it’s clear it works. Voting is compulsory in Australia which typically has an almost 79% of registered voters participating.
From a more cynical view, I know that many of young voters, including my peers, are completely disinterested in voting. They seem to believe that voting doesn’t matter, both candidates are terrible and that one vote won’t change a thing. That’s clearly not true. In the recent 2018 Senate race in Florida, Republican Rick Scott beat Democrat Bill Nelson by a little over 15,000 votes. That is a significantly small number taking in the fact that about 8 million voters participated in the Florida election. If more young voters had acted on their civil responsibility, the results of that elections could have drastically gone another way.
Young voters should have one of the highest voting rates of any age group. We typically have more flexible jobs than older people and have the time to get a ballot in the mail or to get to our polling place. We should be eager to have our voices heard.
The only way we can influence the government at all levels and start making necessary changes in it, is to vote for who we want to see in those positions. We, as young people in this country, have our whole lives ahead of us, and every decision made by the government now will affect us for a very long time. We need to let our voices be heard through voting in every single election we are eligible to vote in.