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To Vote or Not to Vote

Addressing the reasoning behind and implications of the political inaction of young voters

Lindsay Fogel, Student News Editor

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While America prides itself on being the pinnacle of democracy and liberty, political inaction is an omnipresent dilemma for the nation, and many are wondering if this pattern will hold true in the upcoming election cycle. To address the issue of poor voter turnouts, it’s imperative to consider the matter with regards to young voters.

A History of Young Voter Turnouts

In recent past presidential elections, voter turnouts have reached all time lows, with the most noteworthy trend being a lack of young voters. According to a U.S. Census analyzing voter turnout from the 1964 President Election through the election in 2012, eligible citizens “between the ages of 18 and 24 have consistently voted at lower rates than all other age groups.”

Furthermore, from 1964 to 2012, the voting rate of this age group has dropped from 50.9 percent to 38.0 percent respectively, signifying a trend of disengagement in politics among young voters. Although there were a few years that could be considered anomalistic, the overall inclination of young voters to choose not to go to the polls is undeniable.

Possible Reasons for Political Inaction

While there are a variety of potential explanations behind low turnout rates among younger generations, The Economist offered feasible rationalizations following the 2014 midterm elections, such as the fact that young people simply may not feel as if “they have much of a stake in society.”

While such an explanation may appear valid at first glance, when the future of America’s policies concerning immigration, the economy, healthcare, and foreign involvement are at stake, the excuse of indifference seems less and less justified.

The Significance of the Millennial Vote

Previously, the dominating and greatly influential force among those eligible to vote was the Baby Boomers generation. However, this election marks a change in the demographics of voters; according to a Pew Research Center report, the estimated number of eligible millennials is approximately equivalent to that of Baby Boomers (69.2 million citizens and 69.7 million citizens respectively).

As such, the potential of the millennial generation to greatly influence this election cannot be underestimated. Yet, the power of millennials is only as great as the number of young voters willing to exercise their right to vote, and with the uncharacteristic nature of this year’s election, it is paramount that each and every eligible citizen do so.

Many voters are dissatisfied with both candidates, as indicated by the fact that a poll by CBS News and the New York Times revealed each of the major party candidates as having unfavorable ratings greater than 50 percent. Despite this fact and the belief held by many that this election is forcing them to choose the “lesser of two evils,” voting is a vital and imperative aspect of a successful democracy.

No matter your political preferences, if you have the ability to vote, do so and do not waste your vote. With the 2016 Election surely making itself an unforgettable one, the importance of exercising your right to vote is relevant now more than ever.

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To Vote or Not to Vote