EDITORIAL: Tuesday is election day. Go vote

Editoral board

Despite the growing population of millennials who are eligible to vote, a Pew Research Center study shows people aged 20 to 35 continue to have the lowest voter turnout of any age group. About 46 percent voted in the 2012 presidential election, increasing in the 2016 presidential election to 51 percent.

This is still significantly lower than the 61 percent of the electorate who voted. Millennials are quickly approaching Baby Boomers (ages 54 to 72) as America’s largest generation of voters. But if they don’t vote, that statistic means nothing. Millennials, especially college students, need to utilize the power of the vote to shape the country to be one they want to live in.

“My vote doesn’t matter,” is a phrase often thrown around by young, skeptical voters. However, this mindset is shared by many across the country. NPR reported for every 10 adults eligible to vote, only about four cast a ballot in the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections.

The belief that one person’s vote does not matter is deeply flawed. As votes are counted, races can appear too close to call and nonvoters who decide to vote can play a significant role in shaping the election.

Because of the rise of social media, everyone’s lives, including politicians, are more open now than ever. This makes it easier to vote out politicians who have a history of sexual misconduct or domestic violence. The reason “people who suck are still in office,” as some millennials would say, is because of uneducated voters, not because a singular vote doesn’t matter.

Brave women had to fight for nearly a century for an entire constitutional amendment just to be allowed to vote in 1920, which was not that long ago in the grand scheme of things. Even after the 15th Amendment gave black men the right to vote in 1870, they were deterred from the polls with literacy tests and poll taxes for almost 100 years. So why is it so hard to get young people to vote today?

“I don’t know the issues,” is another reason young people don’t vote. The answer: Do your research. Voting guides are available online, as well as each candidate’s goals and policies. It just takes a little time to learn. We all have access to so many forms of social media and technology, and these must be taken advantage of when learning about the issues and candidates. When nonvoters say, “I don’t know the issues, so I don’t vote,” it seems more like, “I don’t care to learn the issues, so I don’t vote.”

Another common complaint is not knowing enough information about the candidates, but that excuse becomes less and less relevant in the internet age. If face-to-face interaction is necessary, local chapters of the League of Women Voters and political parties can give you a rundown on the candidates.

Because we young voters will be moving into adulthood during the upcoming administration, it is now our job to decide what we want America’s policies and values to be. Voting is an essential part of that.