A Millennial’s Perspective On Youth & Voting
- October 15th, 2012
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Election Day is quickly approaching, so we decided to check in with our Youth Advisory Board members to hear how they and their peers feel about the race. Our YAB member Skyanne explains just how important young people are in this election, and for many Millennials, it's the first time that they'll have a say about major political issues that impact their futures. Skyanne spoke to numerous young people and found that they're most interested in social issues with abortion and equality being the biggest concerns for them. Many want to stand behind these issues, but others are overwhelmed or annoyed by the election and are turned away from voting. This leaves a lot of uncertainty about how youth will impact the election, but Skyanne, like many, is hopeful that her generation will show up to vote.
A Millennial's Perspective On Youth & Voting
Negative ads during every commercial break, articles analyzing every word from the debates, and a newsfeed full of angry political rants and arguments are all making it loud and clear that we are now in the middle of a huge election year. For many Millennials, this is the first election in which they've been aware of their surroundings and the political race. Not only are Millennials finally able to vote, they are able to vote in what could potentially be one of the biggest and most important races in recent history.
Politicians are also well aware of the fact that Millennials are coming into voting age and each party is attempting to get the young adult majority. In the 2008 elections, President Obama easily carried the 18-24-year-old majority by promising to make college more affordable, and in this election, the rate of student loan interest is a major point as well.
However, this election is not about loan interest — it's about the economy, abortion, equality, healthcare reform, and a multitude of other issues being debated each and every day.
So where does that leave all the Millennial voters?
Either fired up or fed up.
Many first-time voters, like myself, are fired up and ready to vote. This is our first chance to truly use our voice and directly impact our future and we're excited to take it. The issues being debated, like Social Security and Medicare reform, will impact Millennials for years to come, but it's the social issues, particularly abortion and equality, that are truly getting Millennials to speak up.
When asked what the most important issue for her in this election was, Sarah, a college freshman, responded, "Same sex rights. I don't completely understand all of the issues, like Medicare reform, but I do know that in 2012, everyone should be equal and that will play a major role in who I vote for."
Sam, another college freshman, responded to the same question with, "Abortion. I am pro-life and most of my vote will be based on that."
After speaking to many first-time voters, "abortion" and "equality" were the two reasons that kept popping up. They are at the front of Millennials' minds and while many older Americans find issues like Social Security and the economy more important, Millennials appear to be voting on strong beliefs relating to the two issues.
However, not all Millennials are excited to vote. In fact, the same hot-button issues getting Millennials fired up are making others fed up too. Jake, a high school senior said, "I'm not even registering to vote. Politics just make me angry. I don't want to deal with the mess."
He's not alone either. The 18-24 age group is the least politically active, though the percentage of young voters has been on the rise. While the issues today may be thought of as more important, the consistent arguing over the issues is turning new voters away from the election. Others are just not interested in the election.
The 2012 election has much of America divided on issues and the Millenials are no exception to this. Yet it seems that many Millennials are ready to stand up and vote, perhaps moreso than in previous elections, but time will tell.
Skyanne was the girl skipping school in fourth grade to stay home and write. She loves traveling more than anything else and has goals to visit every continent in the world and every country in Latin America. After graduating high school, she is taking a year off to travel. Her second passion is volunteering and she hopes to spend time in developing countries, particularly places like Ghana and Cambodia, to work with children. Skyanne hopes to attend UC San Diego to major in Political Science and International Relations. She is obsessed with “Vampire Diaries” and never passes up a chance to fangirl over Ian Somerhalder. She can be found on Twitter @skyvsworld and on her travel blog, Sky vs World.