As the presidential election looms closer and closer, there are ads everywhere urging us to pick the “right” candidate for whom to vote. However, I think the more pressing issue than deciding whom to vote for is lurking beneath the surface: young people have begun to stop voting.
All across the country, politicians, business-owners, and everyday people are insisting that young people are becoming increasingly apathetic towards the idea of voting. A poll published in Gallup recently said, “Young people are losing interest in voting. Just 58 percent of voters 18 to 29 years old said they are “definitely likely to vote” this November, down from 78 percent in a poll taken in October ahead of the 2008 election, and 81 percent in 2004. “
This seriously alarms me in multiple ways: first, I have a hard time understanding why young people- or for that matter, any group of people- would voluntarily choose not to vote. Voting is how we express our beliefs as citizens, and is more effective than protesting ninety-nine percent of the time. If we don’t believe our representatives are serving our needs as a people, we are able to nominate someone else who will represent us better. We’re able to select who we want in our government, pushing for our needs, caring for our safety, and bettering our lives. If people don’t vote, they can’t complain about not being appropriately politically represented.
Second, I think that to not vote is a disgraceful waste of our abilities as citizens in a democratic society. Our Founding Fathers gave us the right to vote and the right to express our political beliefs, however directly or indirectly we choose to do so. Reading the papers of Madison, Jefferson, and Hamilton in APGOV has shown me how much they believed in a republican society, and how much they desired that their citizens be able to vote and express their beliefs.
I’ll be eighteen this October, about a week before the presidential election. I’ve been registered to vote since this March, and it’s all I’ve been talking about for the past six months. I firmly believe that there’s still a point in voting, despite the apathy of some members of my generation. No matter whom I end up voting for, I won’t be part of the youth demographic who remained silent during one of the most important elections of this century. I’ll have chosen whom I want to represent me and serve my needs, and whom I genuinely believe will do a good job leading our country for the next four years. For me, that’s all the motivation I need to get to the voting booth.