By Jessie Bruner
Sean McElwee, writer for Aljazeera America, reports that in the 2014 midterm elections only 42 percent of Americans actually voted. This is the lowest level of voter turnout since 1978, says McElwee. In a poll done by USA Today in 2012, 59 percent of people who didn’t vote said that the reason for not voting was because they were frustrated that “nothing ever gets done.” 42 percent also pointed out that there was a lack of difference between the two presidential parties. Many of those interviewed for the poll didn’t believe that the elections made much of a difference in their lives anyway.
If the election in November continues on the same downward spiral as the 2014 miderm elections, then that leaves only about 50 percent of the population of the United States voting for a president that has a lot of power over the entire nation. Studies also show that those most likely to vote are the stereotypical, rich, white males with good paying jobs, which feel secure in their finances.
However, the obligation to vote lies in the hands of millennials; individuals between the ages of 18 and 30 in the current world. A survey done by the U.S. Government shows that millennials today are the “largest, most diverse generation in the U.S. population” (whitehouse.gov). The same document states that millennials value such things that would sway a major election: community and family. They are also investing more in human capital and social sciences. They are living in today’s world. We are living in today’s world. With a title such as the “largest, most diverse generation in the U.S.” and possibly its history, wouldn’t the obligation to vote fall heaviest on our generation?
The consequences of not voting are enough to make an impact, contrary to popular belief. Young people today make up around 25% of the population. With numbers like that, our vote could win an election, especially considering past elections. In 1960, one of the closest votes in history took place as John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon battled against one another for the title of President of the United States. As the ballets came in and the final vote was counted, John F. Kennedy beat Richard Nixon by .17% of the popular vote, the first time in history that a candidate won by less than a 5% margin. In a race that close, every vote matters.
As the 2016 election approaches, millennials have the responsibility to determine which candidate will be the best fit for our nation. With diversity and creativity built into our title, our obligation to not only vote, but to be informed about our vote, grows ever important. Our obligation not only stands with us and ourselves, but all those women who fought for women suffrage. They wanted to be heard, and they knew their vote would matter. Let us appreciate their sacrifices and hard work, and show the world, and ourselves, what our votes can do.