Young People, Let's Use Our Voice!
As the 2020 election looms ahead, America is entering a sweet spot of time for young voters to express their interests, passions, and concerns. So far, there are 15 Democrats and one Republican who are in the running for President in our next election. Yes, that’s right: 15 Democrats. This is a chance for young people to express to those candidates what they want out of these politicians’ campaigns. This is the time to tell them what will get the younger generation’s vote. There are two very important components to this equation: first, express what is wanted, and second, actually commit to voting.
Bernie Sanders, a democratic socialist, is running again. A prominent argument amongst Democrats in Sanders’ 2016 campaign for the presidency was whether the younger generation of voters actually vote. Sanders has been known as the candidate that appeals to college-aged voters and has made many a campaign promise to this group while on the campaign trail (à la, free public college tuition). While Sanders has been adamant about this campaign tactic, other candidates seem to shy away from campaigning to younger audiences.
Younger voters became a controversial topic in considering whether targeting younger generations actually pays off in elections. Many believe that young people will show up to events and showcase their opinions, but will not actually show up at the polls to cast a ballot on Election Day. Unfortunately, many statistics have historically backed up this idea. According to electproject.org, voters aged 18-29 have the lowest turnout of any age group. In 2016, only 40 percent of this age group voted. 60 percent of 30-44 year olds, and nearly 70 percent of 45 and above voted. Clearly, the lowest voting rates are coming from young voters.
This can all change. If younger voters can prove that they will legitimately vote, there’s no reason that the opinions of college students can’t be heard and honored by every single candidate in this election. What can be done so that college-aged students can both express their opinions, wishes, and desires, and convince politicians that it is worth listening to them?
Firstly, everyone should register to vote. Young people cannot possibly even begin to convince anyone that they will vote unless they are in fact registered. Additionally, if you are not yet 18, but will be by the time that the election rolls around, it should be of note that you can actually pre-register to vote beginning at age 16. Visit iwillvote.com to register!
Second, students should work on what they’re good at! Utilize social media. An article on CNBC last week mentioned that social media executives working for Joe Biden’s (possible) upcoming campaign were pulling social media stats to advise Biden on appealing to young voters in his campaign. Social media is a platform, a center stage. Have a voice. Use it.
Next, stay informed. Watch or read the news. Be able to hold your own in a conversation about political events. This is a pretty easy (and fascinating) way to impress older voters and political aficionados. Knowing where the country actually stands on certain issues is also an important step before jumping in on the discussion.
Get as involved as possible. Although this can seem daunting, you can start simple. This could be something as active as showing up to a rally, or as mellow as signing up for an at-home phone banking session (when the election is closer). Phone banking is a chance for you to speak with voters and inform them, and yourself, on the election. Additionally, phone banking also takes place over text now! It’s so easy, and you can do it from anywhere.
Finally, get excited! Seriously. This election is a fantastic opportunity for everyone to work on the change that they want to see. Politics may seem intense at times, but elections are the time to actually have, and use, your voice. This is what Democracy is all about!
- Updated 03/26/2019 with current information and statistics.