As the 2020 election gets closer and closer, it is more important than ever that college students register to vote and make their political voices heard. Generation Z, my generation, has consistently been active in political and socio-economic issues such as racial equality, gender equality, and even gun control, so as more of us turn eighteen and gain the right to vote, it is vital that we each vote in our own self-interest. There are a variety of political subjects that directly impact us as students and young people, from student loans to climate change. As we slowly come into our role of the future of this country, it is clear to me that we must take action in the upcoming election (mostly with absentee ballots or mail-in ballots because of COVID). Below are nine reasons why young people and college students should register to vote.
1. Generation Z and Millenials make up the largest percentage of the eligible voting population.
This upcoming election, approximately 10% of voters will be Gen Z. Meanwhile, in the 2016 election, millennials compiled approximately 27% of the eligible voter population. Together, these two generations will make up 37% of the eligible voter population in this year’s presidential election. That is a massive percentage of votes, enough to turn the tide of an election if everyone registers on time and turns up to vote. Unfortunately, in past elections, excluding the 2018 midterm, young people have had a surprisingly low turnout at the polls. This is the year to change that.
2. No one else votes with students in mind.
College students in particular are impacted greatly by a variety of socio-economic policies. This varies between student loans, affordable health care, rent control, and so much more. Older generations generally do not vote with college students in mind. Why would they? They aren’t college students and they generally vote for their own issues and subjects. Like older generations, such as boomers, college students and young adults should vote in their own self-interest, targeting politicians and policy-makers that have their issues in mind.
3. It is ingrained in the US’s political philosophy.
This country is built on a foundation of democracy. Translated from the original Greek, democracy is literally the government of the people. If we don’t voice our opinions in the ballots, we have no right to complain about the aftermath. If you have the chance, no, the right to change the outcome of your country, seize it. Protests are fantastic and petitions are sometimes effective, but the best way to create change is to exercise your right to vote.
4. We are the ones that will live on to see the impacts of policy passed by past generations.
As politicians pass laws loosening restrictions on oil and coal companies, who will be the ones witnessing the terrible impacts on the world we know? As soon as 2050, we will see the impacts of policy on the health of the planet. Already, the polar ice caps have melted and fires have blazed across Australia. By then, we will be the ones left to deal with the impacts of climate change, not the sixty and seventy-year-olds passing laws in our place. Without voting, we as young people cannot be heard in Congress. Without voting, we cannot change the laws impacting terrible issues like climate change.
5. Every vote counts.
Although the electoral college is a source of disillusionment, I still truly believe every vote counts. The electoral college relies on the state’s majority. If your state’s majority votes republican, all the electoral votes will be republican, and vice versa. If young people vote en masse in the upcoming election, we have the power to shift the electoral college outcome.
6. Young people are hit the hardest by recessions.
While older generations have had opportunities to accumulate money and savings, 18-25-year-olds simply have not had the time to do so. In 2008, young people were hit hardest by the Great Recession. With college debt and inexperience in the workforce, young people were crippled by the financial collapse. Now, although unemployment rates did drop over the past ten years, we are at the beginning of a new recession because of the pandemic. Over the next few years, even though the pandemic will eventually die down, eviction rates will skyrocket and unemployment rates will most likely increase. Therefore, it is important that we vote in our own interest in terms of debt forgiveness and other economic factors.
7. Young people are incredibly diverse.
Generation Z is more racially and ethnically diverse than any generation that came before it. We have the variety within our generation to shift the number of people of color in the government, thus impacting policy on minorities of every kind. If we vote, we can take part in choosing the politicians that come into power, therefore changing this country’s views on the rights and privileges of minorities throughout the nation. This includes racial diversity, gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, etc.
8. Some people don’t want you to vote.
Historically, there have always been groups of people that do not want us or others to vote. Even when black men supposedly gained the right to vote in the mid-1860s, groups like the KKK threatened and even killed black people who showed up at the polls. Not to mention, the government released laws like literacy tests and poll taxes to strip people of color of their rights to vote. Meanwhile, when women fought for the right to vote, it took over fifty years of peaceful protest and conventions to finally get our voice in politics. Throughout history, our ancestors have fought for the right to vote. Even now, some people in the government do not want young people to vote because we generally have such different political opinions than the generations that came before us. However, unlike our ancestors that fought “tooth-and-nail” for the right, we can register to vote in less than five minutes. We have the choice and the honor to vote. We only have to take it.
9. It is easier now more than ever to register to vote.
There are countless websites and sources where people can sign up to vote. Below, I listed several websites where you could register to vote. If you have already registered, I also listed websites where you could sign up for absentee ballots.
https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/electronic-or-online-voter-registration.aspx (Lists voter registration sites for each state)