Catherine Yackira ‘24
“Shall the Nevada Constitution be amended by adding a new section guaranteeing specific voting rights to all qualified and registered voters in the state?” This is one of the five constitutional amendment proposals on my ballot this year. I was surprised to read this because the right seems so absolute, yet every election year I am reminded how tenuous this right is for many. The privilege that I have to cast my ballot without being disenfranchised makes this duty of mine all the more important to recognize and use.
Along with voting for the next president of the United States, in my state I will also be voting for a representative in Congress, a state assembly position, 59 district court judge positions, and five proposed amendments to my state’s constitution. Statistically, more than half of the voting demographic between the ages of 18-29 does not vote (File, Thom.). Not only does that mean that less than half of that voting demographic gets a say in the presidency, but they also don’t get a say in those district court judge positions, those representatives, or those amendments. This election year has been frustrating; however, it is arguably the most important of our lifetime. It is easy to get discouraged to the point of apathy, but that frustration is something you should embrace. Because you have the opportunity to change it. It is a clear privilege that I can ‘suffer through’ this election year. I am lucky to be unaffected by laws that are meant to suppress votes, and I am lucky that I will be able to take the time out of my day to vote on a Tuesday in November. And that is why, if you are lucky enough to have this privilege of being exhausted by this election year, it is your duty to vote.
Young people, especially college students, have been the least likely demographic to show up to the polls since the voting age was lowered to 18 (File, Thom.). I have heard many students claim that they aren’t voting because their vote “doesn’t matter.” That could not be further from the truth. Voting is the most effective way to get your entire person accounted for. Older affluent populations flock to the polls in overwhelming numbers, so the issues they care about are given priority. In 2016, the 65+ voter demographic had the highest voter turnout at 70.9 percent, and 18-29-year-olds had the lowest at 46.1 percent (U.S. Census Bureau). If you don’t make your voice heard, politicians have no incentive to listen. Because the younger voting demographic doesn’t show up to the polls, the issues that our generation tends to care about, such as student loans, climate change, and federal minimum wage, often get less publicity.
If you feel frustrated by politics, if you feel discouraged by the candidates this year, you have the most incentive to vote. If you want to see the policies you care about put into action, you need to vote for a candidate who will do so. If you are able to vote this year and choose not to, you are throwing away your opportunity to promote the change you want to see. Millennials and Gen Z will be the largest share of eligible voters in 2020 (Fry, Richard). The votes of those two generations alone could cause an upset that could completely change the political arena. All that you have to do is cast your vote.
Bureau, US Census. “Voting in America: A Look at the 2016 Presidential Election.” The
United States Census Bureau, 10 May 2017, http://www.census.gov/newsroom/blogs/random-samplings/2017/05/voting_in_america.html.
File, Thomas. “Young-Adult Voting: An Analysis of Presidential Elections, 1964–2012.” The United States Census Bureau, 2014, http://www.census.gov/prod/2014pubs/p20-573.pdf.
Fry, Richard. “Millennials Approach Baby Boomers as America’s Largest Generation in Electorate.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 14 Aug. 2020, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/04/03/millennials-approach-baby-boomers-as-larg st-generation-in-u-s-electorate/.