Gearing up to vote in November

As a resident of Amherst MA, it’s relatively impossible to escape the frenzy surrounding the upcoming election.

Even if Bernie’s not your guy, it’s likely that you’ve heard someone rant about Trump or read an article on one of the candidates in the past week.

We live in an area where, generally, people are informed about the election and the importance of its outcome.

This president could be the first to appoint four Supreme Court justices since Nixon; he or she will be at the forefront of critical environmental decisions; and since Republicans currently control both the House and the Senate, the elected official’s party will entirely determine GOP gain over the next four years.

It’s important that young adults in the U.S. vote in national elections.

And yet, U.S. citizens ages 18-24 consistently have the lowest voting rates of any other age range: a 2012 study found that a mere 45% of eligible young adults voted in the presidential election.

Though I was not quite old enough to vote in the primary election this year (I will turn eighteen this month), I’m looking forward to voting in the fall as an important rite of passage.

I will finally be old enough to influence national politics, to actually make a difference and work towards seeing my values represented in the government; that is a privilege, and it’s one that not everyone has access to.

To me, it’s clear that voting is a right that I should take advantage of as soon as I am able.  So why do many young adults feel justified in complaining about the world over social media but do nothing to actually change the way it’s being run?

Low political efficacy is partly to blame.  People, especially young adults who for the most part don’t own mortgages, send their kids to school, or worry about healthcare, believe that their tiny little vote won’t make an impact on a national scale.

In reality, if that 55% of young voters who didn’t participate in the 2012 election participated in this one, there would be a huge difference.

Additionally, while most people over 45 believe that everyone should vote in the election, people under 30 are twice as likely to believe that only well-informed people should be casting a ballot–further discouraging people from voting if they feel that they aren’t “educated” enough.

Today, voting is viewed as a choice rather than a duty, and often even the informed youth choose not to vote because they aren’t seeing a candidate who they believe stands for all of their ideals.

Having a choice is fine, but young adults need to remain aware that by withholding their vote from someone who might not be their “perfect” candidate, they’re opening up the opportunity for someone who holds very little to none of their values to be elected president.