By KAITIE GOODWIN
As November approaches, with headlines focusing more and more on the upcoming presidential election, it is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid the topic with friends. In my own experience, there seems to only be two options when it comes to feelings toward this election. Though one might expect that this choice has more to do with picking which presidential candidate to endorse, it actually has more to do with deciding whether or not to vote at all.
I have found that among my peers, many people feel that voting has become something of a chore, rather than an expression of opinion, or that they feel neither of the current candidates suits them enough to warrant their endorsement. More and more people from my generation are deciding that their votes either do not matter enough or that they have no option that fits their own beliefs. They see no one in the political sphere who holds the same values, the same concerns, or that they cannot truly relate to either candidate. All of these factors have compounded to push the millennial generation away from voting.
For most current UMW undergrads, this November will be the first time we have the chance participate in the presidential election. Given what we have seen and heard over the last year, now more than ever we need to take the influence we have over this election seriously. For the first time we hold real sway over what happens this November, and for our future and the future of our country. We need to vote.
Voting is a crucial part of how our democracy functions, and is one of the ways where the people’s voice is not only heard, but respected. Political efficacy in this country is suffering, especially amongst young voters who often feel that their voices hold little to no sway over the decisions being made by our government. However, now more than any other time in our personal history do we as young voters have power over this election.
According to the Pew Research Center, U.S. Census Bureau data says that 69.2 million Millennials, defined as those between the ages of 18 and 35, are currently eligible to vote. That puts Millennials roughly even with the Baby Boomer generation, those born between 1946 and 1964. Until recent years, the Baby Boomer generation has held and more political power than the Millennial generation, but not because of a higher population. Our generation has a notoriously low rate of voter turnout.
By choosing not to vote, we allow other people to decide our futures for us. We are given the opportunity to have a say in what path this country will take and it is in our own best interest if we make the best use of that choice that we can.
Whatever position we choose to take in this coming election, whoever we choose as our next president, we cannot allow ourselves to sit passively and have that decision made for us. The deadline for registering to vote in the coming elections is Oct. 17, and can be done by mail, in person or online. Absentee ballot requests are due by Tuesday, Nov. 1, and can also be filled out online. As Nov. 8 approaches, we need to make the decision to vote, not only for ourselves now, but for ourselves in the years to come.