Midterms, voting, politics, presidents: these are all words you are probably tired of hearing.
Midterms happen in the second year of a four year presidential term. The last midterms occurred back in 2014, in the middle of former President Barack Obama’s second term. Simply put, midterms are not a presidential election, but rather a race to elect and fill spots in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, along with governorship in 36 states and smaller local elections in each state, such as statewide policies and school board elections. Most importantly, this election will help determine the direction of how the next two years of President Donald Trump’s term will go under these newly elected leaders in the US Government.
The 2014 midterms saw a low voter turnout in millenials with the 2016 presidential election being even lower. According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, at least 9.9 million young Americans between the ages of 18 and 29, or 21.3 percent of them, voted in the 2014 midterm election. In 2016, the percentage dropped 2.3 percent. A common reason among young adults for not voting is that they don’t believe that their vote matters, or that it will not lead to an impactful or effective change in America. Some also believe that politics or the policies on the ballot are not relevant to them because they are not directly affected by what happens in the government.
America has never seen a time more diverse and divided than right now. As millennials account for nearly 50 percent of the population, their vote matters more than ever.
In 1971, the 26th Amendment was added to the Constitution, giving anyone over the age of 18 the right to vote. The US is often glorified as a free nation, however, most young adults do not take advantage of the freedoms they are offered. One of these freedoms being the right to vote, millenials who do not take part in this exercise are not typically aware of the privilege they possess.
The US is a part of 123 democratic countries out of all 192 countries who are run by representatives elected through the citizens of the country. The minimum voting age in several nations is 21, with the US included in this count before 1971. The power to have an effect on the way the country is governed is one of the highest abilities an American citizen can have, and the fact that those between the ages of 18 and 29 do not take advantage of this right, does not give them the ability to criticize the outcome of an election when they could have simply used the privileged they were easily given.
#MeToo, Black Lives Matter, March For Our Lives and Women’s March are only a fraction of the movements that have come out of dissatisfaction towards those in the position of power to prevent these impactful movements from starting in the first place. In 2018, the US saw a shift in leadership in society and not through political power. Young adults, such as the students affected by the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fl., or the tens of thousands who shared their stories of sexual assault with #MeToo, have vocally expressed their opinions against those who have the power to help the causes they are preventing or fighting for. These young adults are at the forefront of change simply because of social media.
Social media is a main source for opinions that clutter Twitter timelines or Instagram feeds, as everyone has their own story to tell, but most often their personal stories are not impactful enough to see the change they wish to happen. Luckily, voting gives people the ability to change what they believe is wrong in society or government. People are given the right to vote for the policies and the people they believe will best represent them to make the changes they want to see take action. However, those who criticize their political leaders or policies, but do not vote, should not continue to complain about newly elected representatives who do not have the same views or do not support the causes they constantly tweet about.
It should not come as a surprise when one says that younger generations shape and lead the future. Those who are on the ballot sheet, if elected, may only be in position for two years, or four if they are re-elected, but are capable of having a lasting impact. Basically, it is just as important for older people to vote as it is for young people, but the influence a simple change in policy or leadership can affect millennials well into their adulthood. The youth in America who are eligible to vote have the power to shape their own future with a simple check mark in a box that not only affects them, but the future of everyone in America. Change may not happen immediately, but a step in the right direction is just as impactful.
There are only 6 days until the midterms and early voting has begun in certain states. Activists, celebrities, politicians and basically anyone with more than ten followers on Twitter, are encouraging others to vote in the next couple of days. In fact, according to early voting returns and the large wave of voter registrations, this midterm may be the highest voter turnout for a midterm in decades on both sides of the political spectrum. Most of this increasing pace is due to the large wave of new voters. These new voters may not even be teenagers who recently turned 18, but all those who registered to vote since the 2016 election. As this enthusiasm is great news for democracy, it should not stop those who continue to assume that if they vote or not, it will ultimately not matter due to a large turnout.
Voting or registering to vote has never been easier. A simple link can be a step towards casting a ballot and making a difference. People are able to register to vote online, by filling out a National Voter Registration Form and mailing it to a local election office or in person by contacting a local election office. Voting registration ended Oct. 22 in California for this year’s midterms, but registration continues for future elections. Voting is only done in person at multiple local polling stations before or on Nov. 6 in California. Additionally, voting can be scary when feeling as if your vote affects millions of Americans, as it actually does, but it’s reassuring after researching and understanding who and what will be on the ballot. The methods to vote continue to evolve into more efficient and easier ways every election in order for everyone to have a pleasant voting experience. It’s no longer a secret that the 2018 midterms are 6 days away, but what are your plans on Nov. 6? If it involves a magical four letter word, that basically is the pinnacle of democracy, then you’ve made the right decision. Vote.