As a 19-year-old in America, I can relate to the frustration of recognizing and understanding the problems facing our nation while uncertain that I can do anything to make a difference. I often think that my voice is not heard because I am only one person with a limited impact on society. Doing nothing, however, does not solve anything. One thing I know for sure is that my vote can count.
How can our government represent our best interests, with representatives fighting for what their constituents want, if their constituents cannot be bothered to vote?
The issues are significant and seemingly endless – climate change, health care, gun control, minimum wage, improving education, improving infrastructure, to name some of the main challenges in our society. Whether they are local, state or national elections, there are so many problems and choices and too little time for consideration.
If you are not sure who or what to vote for, do some research. There are great resources available such as free information compiled by the League of Women Voters, an organization that gathers answers from candidates to frequently asked voter questions about key issues. Seeing where the candidates stand can help you decide where you stand before you vote.
According to a Tufts University’s CIRCLE survey, 33.5% of 18-29-year-olds who did not vote in 2010 said they were too busy or had conflicting work (CIRCLE). There is a simple solution: Ask for an absentee ballot and mail it in. Nearly 17.2% of people 18 to 29 years old did not vote in 2010 because they were “not interested, felt my vote would not count,” but it does (CIRCLE)!
The impact of youth voting can already be seen in the results from the 2018 midterm elections when the number of voters between the ages 18-29 increased from 20% to 31%. The effect of these numbers is seen in many state races where candidates won by a little as 1.2%, due in part to youth voting (CIRCLE).
Over the past 20 years more than a dozen races were decided as little as a single vote or ended in a tie (npr). That does not take into account the numerous elections that were determined by a few thousand or only a handful of votes.
No one knows the outcome of an election until after the votes are counted. So even if you think voting is a waste of your time and there is no point, your vote can make a difference. Youth voting is on the rise, but that progression needs to continue to see the positive change that young voters can make.
Youth, senior citizens or in-between, if you want your voice heard, do something. VOTE!
** Kristen Harvey is a sophomore in the Honors College and James Madison College of Public Affairs at Michigan State University pursuing a degree in Comparative Cultures and Politics with minors in Spanish and Science Technology Environment and Public Policy (STEPPs). She is passionate about helping people and the environment.
“4 Reasons Young People Don’t Vote… and What To Do About It.” YSA (Youth Service America), 12 Oct. 2018, https://ysa.org/4-reasons-young-people-dont-vote-and-what-to-do-about-it/.
CIRCLE » Young People Dramatically Increase Their Turnout to 31%, Shape 2018 Midterm Elections. https://civicyouth.org/young-people-dramatically-increase-their-turnout-31-percent-shape-2018-midterm-elections/. Accessed 8 Aug. 2019.
“Why Every Vote Matters — The Elections Decided By A Single Vote (Or A Little More).” NPR.Org, https://www.npr.org/2018/11/03/663709392/why-every-vote-matters-the-elections-decided-by-a-single-vote-or-a-little-more. Accessed 8 Aug. 2019.
Youth Vote in America: Why These Teens Say Low Voter Turnout Days Are Done | PBS NewsHour Extra. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/daily-videos/youth-vote-in-america-why-these-teens-say-low-voter-turnout-days-are-done/. Accessed 8 Aug. 2019.