No good excuses for millennials not to vote

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The midterm elections are still a week away, but voting has already begun in many parts of the country with absentee ballots and early voting. The media is calling this midterm one of the most important elections in our lifetime, yet young people still cannot find the will to vote. Instead, they make excuse after excuse for their choice to abstain.

For years, there has been a trend of young people not voting, and the upcoming midterm is no exception. Montgomery County in Clarksville, Tennessee has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the state and doesn’t seem like it’ll change anytime soon. The younger voters in Montgomery County are jaded by today’s politics. Some of them argue that politics has become too divisive and that they do not want to pick a side. Other young people defend their choice not to vote by not believing that their vote can lead to positive change.

It is important for these young voters to understand that their votes truly do count. Yes, it is true that one vote is small compared to the entire electorate, but your vote could also be one of the deciding votes that helps a candidate win. The best example of why voting matters is Conor Lamb’s special election victory in PA’s 18th district last March. Lamb won by a narrow margin of fewer than 700 votes, flipping a formerly red district blue.

Another excuse people make for not voting is that they do not 100 percent agree with a candidate’s policies. In fact, it is highly unlikely that you will agree with all of a candidate’s policies, but that does not mean that you should not vote for them if they are clearly the better choice, and will push our country towards a better future. For this upcoming midterm, it is important to note that you don’t have to agree with a candidate on everything — rather, you should vote for the candidate that you believe will uphold and protect your values.

Young college students like to justify not voting by their lack of time on election day. At first, this may seem like a fair excuse, because waiting in line at the polls can take a bit of time; however, many states offer early voting and all states offer absentee ballots. Filling out an absentee ballot takes less than five minutes, so there should be no time constraint excuse for students not voting.

Other college students and millennials say that they do not have the time to educate themselves on the candidates, so they do not feel justified in voting for someone they do not have a lot of information about. However, if these voters can take half an hour out of their day, they will find that all candidates have websites, literature, and email lists, which they can read through before the election. This is rather moralistic, but the truth of the matter is that most of the electorate is uneducated about the candidates running for office, which is why we are in our current predicament. Although this is a poor excuse to not vote, more voters should have this mindset and realize that they should do their research before voting on someone to represent them.

As someone who has interned for the Democratic Party and engaged in voter outreach, one of the most frequent responses for why young people do not vote is that they do not feel well-represented. Young potential voters argue against voting because they believe candidates only represent the older population. This is true because the majority of the older population actually votes! If young people want their opinions considered in Congress, they need to vote en masse; only then will they feel well represented.

In many Pittsburgh neighborhoods, several houses have signs in their front yards reading “vote like your future depends on it.” For many of these young voters, their futures do depend on the people we elect this midterm. The media is not wrong in saying that this could be the most consequential election of our lives. Next Tuesday, people of all ages — including college students and millennials — must vote for the people that will stand up and fight for what they hold most important.