Urge youth to vote in primary and general elections
Social media is a powerful tool when it comes to relaying ideas and sharing information. This is especially important when it comes to things like the presidential election; it allows individuals — people who may not have had any interest in or access to speeches or debates — to hear the candidates’ ideals and formulate an opinion. Because of social media, individuals have had the chance to hear and criticize Trump’s outrageous claims even if they missed a GOP debate or two. Social media is also the vehicle through which so many young people claim to “Feel the Bern.” One would think that with all the humorous posts “comparing the issues” between Sanders and Clinton, more young people would go out and vote — if not to enact their own political views, then, at the very least, to prevent a man with the hair of an unkempt troll doll who considers one million dollars a small loan from becoming president.
According to primary coverage and results by the New York Times, Bernie Sanders had won seven states — as opposed to Hillary Clinton’s 12 — as of March 5, following the Super Tuesday elections. As for the GOP, sadly, Donald Trump remains in the lead. The high numbers attainable with the youth vote are needed to ensure that Bernie Sanders is actually a contender for president. According to a Feb. 10 CNN article, in New Hampshire, 83 percent of voters aged 18 to 29 chose Sanders as opposed to a mere 16 percent who voted for Clinton. Sanders also won 78 percent of first-time voters. The results of the Iowa Democratic caucus further bolster the idea that the youth vote lies with Sanders.
According to a Feb. 2 Washington Post article, 84 percent of voters between ages 17 and 29 voted in favor of Sanders.
It is evident that he has a certain following, and in order to ensure his eligibility as a president, the youth vote is needed. Yet even if Hillary wins the nomination instead, our vote is still necessary to ensure that anyone but Donald Trump wins.
This is both interesting and frightening for two reasons: the first, that Donald Trump might actually have a chance at this election; the second, that all of those young liberals who claimed to “Feel the Bern” are nowhere in sight.
The support that I see for Sanders, from young adults on every social media outlet, does not reflect the numbers that are occurring at the polls. The problem lies with the fact that young people are not voting. According to a March 2 article from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, youth votes on Super Tuesday exceeded the 2008 results. In 2008, there were an estimated 919, 263 youth voters between ages 18 to 29, and this year, there were 1,002,184. This increase in numbers, however, still does not make up for the fact that young people only make up a small portion of the citizen vote — only 5 percent when calculated from the information provided by the United States Census Bureau.
In 2014, a report generated by the United States Census Bureau shows trends in voting patterns of different groups, including age, gender and race — among others. This data revealed that, out of a population of nearly 30,000, only 17 percent of people from ages 18 to 24 had actually voted.
These numbers are absurdly low, and it is astonishing because the results of the election influence the youth of America directly. They are the ones who have to begin their adult lives under the legislation of the new president.
The people who actually turn out at the polls, however, are primarily voters from age 55 to 64. No, there is not anything wrong with older voters, but it is the duty of young Americans to do their part and mold the nation that they want to see. It should not be left only in the hands of people who will suffer the consequences of the government’s actions for a shorter period of time.
Now the question arises: Why don’t more young people vote? This is a question that has been asked time and time again, and there have even been organizations — like “Rock the Vote” — trying to promote youth activity in the democratic process, but there is still no concrete change. In 2010, the Center for Information and Research on Civil Learning and Engagement polled citizens aged 18 to 24 and asked why they did not vote.
For college students, the most common reason for not voting was the claim of being “too busy” with 34 percent of their respondents answering so. There is never any excuse to not vote. As a student with a heavy workload and commitments overlapping with exams, I understand the struggle of managing everything, but voting and taking part in a nationwide process must be a priority for everyone, including — and especially — students, because they are the ones filled with new ideas that could possibly enact great change. It is not anything that should take up more time than a weekend Netflix binge or the occasional study break.
The second most common answer was that they were not in their home state and therefore did not vote.
As a New York native, I can relate, but that is not a sufficient excuse. One can vote early or as an absentee and still take part in the election — registering is as simple as mailing in a form. There is really nothing stopping young adults from voting.
The first time voting is almost like a rite of passage. It symbolizes adulthood and beginning to make important decisions. It is also a way of expressing the validity of one’s opinions: By voting, one is essentially saying that their views and their opinions matter to this nation and should hopefully lead to desired change.
The young adults I know are extremely opinionated and can have heated conversation for hours discussing why they feel certain candidates should — or should never — be president. Sadly, without the action of these opinionated young people, we might be doomed to whatever Donald Trump’s idea of a great America is.