This past Tuesday, November 6th, the midterm elections were held across America. The midterm elections tend to be on the back burner for many voters, especially young ones, but this midterm election was and is more important now than ever. In the eyes of some, it could change the outcome of the next presidential election. Although the midterm elections have come and gone this year, there is still a fight to be had, and there are plenty of eligible voters who have a voice to introduce to the political world in the next round of elections.
Voting is not only a right, but a responsibility. The current political climate of the United States makes it more important than ever to exercise this right. Every individual’s personal opinion of every candidate and referendum is necessary for a true representative democracy. If you do not have an opinion, it is vital that you create one. Get informed, get active, and exercise your civic duty to its full extent. If you did not vote in this election, it is your job to get to the voting booths and be registered when the next election comes around.
One of the most common faulty justifications as to why young people do not vote is because they believe that their vote doesn’t matter or count for their respective state, especially if these individual’s political tendencies do not fall in line with the majority of their state. Although this is an easy pattern of thought to fall into, it is a dangerous one. When enough individuals think in this manner, the state, as well as the country as a whole, feels the loss.
For example, the black voter turnout in the 2016 presidential election fell to 59.6% after it peaked at a record high in 2012 for Obama with 66.6% voter turnout (Pew Research). This statistic highlights a community that has made a difference in elections before, but failed to do so in 2016 because of a lack of voter turnout. In general, the black population in the United States typically falls to the left of the spectrum, and therefore aligns with the Democratic Party. With the 2016 election still frustratingly fresh in the minds of many, it is not hard to forget that the mobilization of any typically democratic group of individuals could have changed the outcome. Although the results of the election are not any one communities’ fault or responsibility, voter turnout across all walks of life are some of the most vital sources of change in every election, not just the presidential ones.
Others believe that the results of an election do not directly affect them or their lifestyles. This is, again, a very flawed belief common amongst young voters. Many individuals, especially college students at private liberal arts colleges like Holy Cross, grew up in stable, secure households with at least one or two parents or guardians that created an environment in which their children had little to no worries. This is not directly problematic, nor is it all encompassing of young people today. Oftentimes individuals who come from these environments do not feel the need to vote for, or care about, candidates and issues that seemingly do not affect their day to day lives, hence the typical higher voter turnouts for presidential elections. However, almost everything in the political world is connected, from your school board members to the President and Vice President of the United States. Young voters may not always directly see how their vote will affect them for years to come, but there is great purpose with every click or check in the voting booth. So, listen up, young people, your vote matters for you and every other person sitting in your Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9 AM, whether you like it or not.
It is easy to lose sight of your vote, especially when you go off to college in a different state or even a different town, and put in an effort beyond just driving to the voting booth and clicking a few buttons. Although requesting and filling out absentee ballots can seem tedious and sometimes just another hoop to jump through for a vote that in the minds of many means little to nothing, there is so much value and pride in standing up for what you believe. So, do not just vote, but advocate, volunteer, and most importantly, get informed so you can inform others. There is nothing more powerful than a citizen ready to make a change.