You’ve more likely than not seen them all across social media. The ads urging people to register to vote. The Taylor Swifts and the Rihannas of the world pleading with people to take the time to go to the polls. The presidential tweets and media calls to make your voice heard in November. Every two years this ritual-like process begins to grows louder and louder until the first Tuesday of November, election day, occurs. Both parties calling for their bases to turn out and elect them to enact their agenda. Every two years the majority of voters turn out to cast their ballots, however one age group lags behind the rest in making their voices heard:
To be born between the years of 1981 and 1996 would make you a millennial. Nearly half of all college students make up this demographic with the rest falling into the Generation Z mark. According to Pew Research, millennials who were eligible to vote reached 69.2 million Americans for the 2016 presidential election cycle. The only group that was bigger were the baby boomers, who held 69.7 million eligible voters. In the last two years, the number of eligible millennial voters surpassed the number of eligible baby boomers making millennials the largest group of voters of any voting bloc. Despite containing the most voters of any generation in American history, millennials are failing to make a large impact in politics.
Turnout for the last presidential election reached a dismal 49% of eligible millennial voters actually casting a vote, compared to 69% of eligible baby boomers. Going back to further to the last midterm election (similar to the election coming up in November), the turnout rate for millennials was an even worse 23% while baby boomer turnout reached 50%. For the largest voting bloc in American history to send less than 1 out of every 4 people to the polls, the group is missing out on changing the country’s direction on a number of issues. Despite being in their 80’s and above, your grandpa and his friends hold more political sway for the size of their group than any other group.
Political campaigns and politicians have started to conclude for some time now that we, the youngest generation that is eligible to vote, has the ability to sway elections in whatever direction we feel. This is the reason for all of those ads popping up on social media, all the celebrities asking for people to turn out. These people are targeting one group of people, the group of people that, if persuaded that they can make a difference, they believe will show up to the polls. The three most common reasons for not voting, were being too busy, not interested in voting, and didn’t like any of the candidates. Despite these perceived hurdles to jump through, voting can take as little as 10 minutes, especially for college students not living at home.
To register to vote, Colorado’s deadline online or in the mail is on October 29th, and up through election day to register in person. All states have different rules on when the deadline to register to vote through each method is, so check whether or not you still can. For the majority of students at Mines, voting through absentee ballot is the easiest way to go. For Colorado residents, all voters now receive mail ballots to their home addresses in an effort to increase voter turnout among everyone. Not all states have this policy and for out of state students (much like myself), absentee ballots must be requested by the secretary of state from your home state. Early voting has already begun in some states and begins 15 days before the election in Colorado. So make sure to vote, to make a difference in something and exercise the political power that our generation has failed to utilize to change America.