This past year, youth activism has made headlines as teens take to the streets to protest and demand actions from their representatives in Congress; however, this has not always been the case. In in the past few decades before the tides turned, teens have had the lowest voter turnout in midterm and presidential elections.
Historically, young people have always been a minority group when it comes to voting. In 2010, only 21% of voters were between 18 and 24. In the 2012 election, voters between the ages of 18-29 made up just 19 percent of the electorate. According to the Center for Information and Research for Civic Learning and Engagement, a youth research organization in Tufts University, only 23.7 million young people between the ages 18 and 34 voted in the 2016 presidential election, where 55% voted for Clinton and 37% voted for Trump.
There is much speculation as to why millennials choose to stay out of the voting ring: some blame laziness, others blame obliviousness, and others blame the education system. However, a Washington Post article suggests that millennials consciously choose not to vote, despite being as politically inclined as their elders were at their age.
According to the Washington Post, millenials display the same level of political interest as the youngest generation in 1987 did, and they still contact their local governments on issues they deem important just like the youth of old. Additionally, as displayed by the school walkouts and the March for Our Lives protest on March 24, 2018, young people are just as likely to participate in protests and other political discussions.
The Economist points to a different cause. Many states in America require people to present government-issued identification in order to vote, but many youths do not own passports, driver’s licenses or hunting licenses. This, and the long process to get a special voter’s ID, may be a factor causing teens to decide against voting.
The article also considers the fact that the young are delaying their careers, marriage, and children, thus delaying their political involvement. Some youths are unconcerned with taxes, property ownership, and getting children the best possible education because they are not yet responsible for these things, whereas the fact that most adults are makes them have strong opinions that they express through political involvement.
Now, according to Carolyn Dewitt, President of Rock the Vote—a national organization dedicated the building political power for young people—voters between the ages of 18 and 35 might make up 40 percent of votes in the upcoming 2020 election.
And it looks like this generation may meet Dewitt’s expectations. Galvanized by the recent school shootings as well as other pressing issues, youths have emerged from their hiding places and are speaking out what they want to see from their representatives.
Whether through physical protests or shows of solidarity on social media, the young people of America have shown a passion for creating change, one which will hopefully bring them to the polls in the coming election.
Source:: The Harbinger