The following post originally appeared on Buzzfeed under the title, “Top 10 Reason Young People Should Get Out and Vote.”
By: Jessica N. Smith
The 2014 Elections are less than 100 days away, so what better way to exercise your civic duty than by voting, and encouraging people to vote.
10. It Takes 18 Years to Proudly Rep. the “iVoted” Sticker
There are very few things that you can do when you turn 18. As a new “adult” you can officially buy a pack of cigarettes, get into 18 and over clubs, join the military, and vote in elections! That means society has officially deemed you as worthy and responsible enough to elect the leader of the free world, no pressure! So why not exercise that right, and get excited.
9. It Took 194 Years to Secure This Right
From the founding of this nation on July 4, 1776 until the ratification of the 26th Amendment on March 23, 1971 large and significant groups of people weren’t able to vote. It took a few wars, the abolishment of slavery, women’s suffrage, desegregation, Jim Crow, and young people to say, “HELL NO! We want votes”, and get us all electing folks. I would say like fine wine we should take advantage of the time spent to make our right a right, right?
8. The 65+ Crowd Is Beating Us to the Polls
According to the Pew Research Center’s data from the 2012 elections, young people aged 18-29 accounted for a whopping 19% of the votes compared to 71.9% of those aged 65 and over. This demographic is also considered the most reliable group of voters out there. They are rolling deep to the polls shortly after/before sunrise breakfast at IHOP. However, we millennials now account for 25.5% of the age-eligible electorate. By 2020, we will be 36.5%. In total, 22-23 million young people voted, in the 2012 election, and we need to carry that momentum even further.
7. It’s Empowering
(Note: this is actually how I feel when I walk out of the polls voting for my favorite candidate.) Voting is empowering because depending on the race, majority rules! When voting for President, a lot of the focus is on the electoral college, and getting ” 270 to win”. But the majority candidate that citizens vote for, means the electoral college are given to that candidate for the state. For these 2014 elections, we’ll be voting for United States Representatives, Senators, Governors, and in some places state judges where your one vote can shift who wins and who loses. There is a lot of power in that — remember those middle school elections where you didn’t win? Yea, too many people voted for that other person, which resulted in your loss? (Yes, I’m still bitter).
6. Your Student Debt Depends on it
In June 2014, a bill was voted on in the Senate the, “Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act”, sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that would have let people with federal and private loans issued prior to 2010 refinance at 3.86 percent—the interest rate that Congress set for federal student loans a year ago. The bill did not receive the 60 votes needed to advance legislation on the Senate floor, it lost by four votes. Now, how does our debt depend on it? We are drowning in $1.2 trillion dollars of student debt, and four Senators kept us from refinancing. Guess what, we vote for 33 new senators this election. Imagine if there were four Senators elected who would have gave us the 60, think of the possibilities.
5. Throwing Out Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act Affected Young People Too
Even the Notorious R.B.G. (a name so brilliantly coined by Shana Knizhnik) emphasized the importance of the Voting Rights Act, in her passionate dissent inShelby County v. Holder . While Section 4 was used to combat discrimination and prejudice in states with a history of racism, this decision has had an affect on all citizens, including young people. In 2013, North Carolina passed a bill that drastically changed the voting procedures in the state, including but not limited to shortening early voting by 1 week, eliminating same day registration and provisional voting if at the wrong precinct, preventing counties from extending poll hours by one hour on election day in extraordinary circumstances (like lengthy lines), and eliminating state supported voter registration drives and preregistration for 16/17 year olds. Think about it, how many times do we move from place to place and don’t know our precinct? We’re being affected, and don’t even realize it!
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