Why the Youth Vote Matters (and Why You Should Vote)
September 17, 2020
By Haley Martinsen
It’s hard to escape politics, especially as the primary election approaches, and especially in a technology-driven world. Youth voters, ages 18-24, and even millennials are notorious for having good intentions, but not following through on election day. In case you planned on skipping the polls this fall, here are a few reasons why you should make some time.
1. Educating yourself about political candidates is easier than ever
“I don’t know who to vote for” is a common excuse, but one that’s quickly losing credibility.
On average, college students spend eight hours on their cell phones daily, and over a third of that time on social media. It’s hard to imagine people who spend over three hours a day on social media aren’t seeing any political content at all.
There are countless resources and websites providing easy-to-read infographics and policies of each candidate, which makes research simple! You don’t have to be an expert in politics to exercise your right to vote, and research will only take a few minutes.
2. Voters ages 18-29 have the power to sway an election
Since 2008, voter turnout declined over 8%. In the United States, millennials and Generation Z make up more than a third of eligible voters and are more ethnically diverse and liberal than older generations. However, voter turnout for this age group in 2018 was 36%.
This is a 79% jump from the previous primary, but 36% is still too low. Older generations make it to the polls, so why can’t we?
As such a large portion of eligible voters, younger generations’ votes are important and play a key role in whether or not a political campaign is successful, especially one that relies on the youth vote. Bernie Sanders’ loss to Hillary Clinton in 2016 is just one example.
Youth voters often think the outcome of the election does not affect them as much, but that isn’t true. At the very least, it will affect the economy (and the job market after graduation).
3. Your vote counts
It might sound cliché, but every vote counts.
In the last 20 years, over a dozen races ended in a tie or were decided by a single vote. In 2017, a Virginia House of Delegates race out of more than 23,000 votes ended in a tie. To decide, they pulled a name out of a hat.
Experts can estimate, but who’s to say just how close the primary in November will be? Better to vote than to regret not voting. After all, a primary is only once every four years.