Millennials are now the largest generation. Unfortunately, when it comes to politics, they can also be the most apathetic.
It’s not hard to see why.
The contempt that many have for the two major-party candidates is palpable. For some of us it’ll be the first time we go to the polls and yet it can seem like a choice between a blowhard and a liar. There’s always the third party option, but whether that’s a viable option or simply a protest vote is an entirely separate topic. This election is far from optimal and none of the current candidates represent our values or our concerns. But that is absolutely not an excuse to stay home on election day; in fact, it gives us all the more reason to participate. Regardless of our disaffection, one of these people will be leading us for the next four years. It is imperative that whoever that is understands we, as millennials, are the key to getting elected.
Kaestle Charlesworth, Director of ASUU’s Government Relations Board put it perfectly: “Everyone’s voice is important and we need to show politicians that Millennials are just as important as Gen X voters. The more Millennials who vote, the larger recognition our concerns get nation wide.”
Earlier this year, Sen. Bernie Sanders ignited that turnout. Just because he didn’t get the nomination doesn’t mean he hasn’t provided millennials a great service. He gave us a platform to demonstrate our voting power and to voice our issues on a national stage. While the candidates are different now, don’t let that passion in the political process die. Don’t let our voices fade away.
Let’s be clear: the current system actively tries suppress that voice. There are endless obstacles for college students that want to vote. For the most part we are chronically poor and have limited means of travel, yet most regulations require that you vote in the same county as your home address. This is an inconvenience for in-state students and for out of state students it’s like climbing Mount Everest.
If you are part of the 15 percent of Utah students who hails from somewhere other than Utah, you’re going to have to request an absentee ballot. That process varies wildly and you can find out more information for your specific state on this website. But a word of advice: don’t wait until the week before. Just to relay my own experience as a Nevada resident, I need to have requested an absentee ballot one week before the date of the election. My particular county also demands that such requests are submitted in person or via postage. So factoring in the time it’ll take for my mail to actually get back home, my civic duty begins a full week and half before most other people.
These systems are archaic, especially to a generation that grew up with the internet. But we can’t let the system dictate our worth as voters. We may not like the process and we may not like the candidates, but that’s all the more reason to actually put in the effort and demand that our concerns be heard before, during and after election day. For the 85 percent of you who are in-state students, it’ll be easier than ever to do that. This year, there will be a polling location on campus in the Library Plaza. So all it really takes to vote is a short detour from your normal routine.
We provide a strong message when heading to the polls. We demand that the spotlight be placed on us and we make politicians afraid to be on our bad side. Don’t devalue the power to make politicians listen.