Get The Youth To The Polls

By Munaja Mehzabin

Change starts with the youth of the world. Young people are the future. This year, the youth of America have been showing up to the polls – they wanted their voices to be heard. According to Census.gov, in 2016, only 46% of voters consisted of young voters, while 71% of voters were men and women between the ages of 65 and older. In  2020, America’s youth decided it was their time to take action and not sit back and watch others choose the fate of their country. Although the Presidential election may have been an extremely important election, it is not the only one everyone can care about. 

TuftsNow published an article on November 17, 2020, where there is an image of a map that shows what it would look like if only youth were to vote. Young voters prefer Joe Biden to Donald Trump in 32 of 39 states that had been reported. In Georgia, America’s youth made up 21% of Biden’s votes, it may sound low, but considering the population of Georgia is about 10.62 million, it is an immense percent. If only youth voted, America would most likely be a Democratic country for years. As stated by MSNBC, back in 2016, approximately 44,107 young people, which consists of 18-29-year-olds, voted early in Florida. In 2020, over 257,720 young people voted early, which is almost 6 times as much. It doesn’t stop at Florida, many states have seen a higher youth voting rate this year. 

Usually, there’s a good amount of people who turn up to the polls for the presidential elections, but when that passes, some people won’t see a ballot until 4 years later. Some may not realize the importance of voting during local elections, and that does affect the state. New York tends to be behind in voter turnout but finally passed the national turnout rate in 2018. As claimed by the NYC Campaign Finance Board, in 2018, there was a 14.4 percent difference in its midterm election from the presidential election, meaning there was less of a turnout. New York is not a swing state, meaning the state can easily be a Republican state or Democratic, New York has been a blue state for many years. Democracy doesn’t end on November 3rd. A 12th grader from Academy named Alisha Eashin has said that “Presidential elections are extremely important but I believe it’s important to also vote during local elections. It focuses on a smaller group of people, and you’ll have your voices heard more.” She also believes that local elections can be more important than presidential elections. An article submitted on campuselect.org states how local elections often take place every year, and because turnout is lower than presidential elections, your vote makes more of a difference. Some may say they don’t vote since they don’t feel like their vote matters, but in a local election, it really does.

While interviewing Ms. Eashin, we touched upon why youth voting really matters. 

Interviewer: Why do you want to vote? 

Alisha: I feel like it’s my responsibility to make a difference as a citizen. I’m living here and I want to try to fix problems in my community.

Interviewer: Why do you think it’s important for the youth to vote? 

Alisha: It’s important for the youth to vote because there’s a lot of us here. We can make a difference. The youth and elders are very different, they have different interests and different things they want to change. Their priorities are different. The older generation tends to focus on the economy and the youth tends to focus on human rights. 

Interviewer: Should the voting age be 17 years old?


Alisha:
I think that if we change the voting age people will constantly change it. Yeah, I want to vote, but we should keep it at 18. What if these kids aren’t educated enough. But I also think that 17-year-olds can be capable, not many changes once someone turns 18. We would most likely have the same beliefs.
A senior from Bryant High School named Rajveer Singh has some different views from Alisha. Unlike Alisha, Raj doesn’t follow politics at all. He has the mentality that he won’t vote unless he sees someone worth voting for. He was also unaware of what local elections were, but eventually while talking to him he understood the importance of being able to help choose the best for your community. Alisha believes locals are even more important than Presidentials because since it’s closer to home, you have a better chance of being heard. Raj thinks differently, he believes presidential elections are more important as he thinks the president has a bigger voice than local representatives, and the president has a bigger impact. Ultimately, Raj and Alisha had very similar opinions and interesting points, but they wouldn’t see eye to eye in every situation.

Interviewer: Why do you think it’s important for the youth to vote? 

Raj: It’s important because it’s not a difficult task, all you need is research and an opinion. It’s a way to use your voice. It’s a citizen’s birthright to vote. 

Interviewer: Should the voting age be 17 years old?


Raj:
No, because there are idiots everywhere. I think it should be higher. The younger generation is easily persuaded and is influenced by social media, they can’t make opinions on their own. 
There are people out there who don’t think you should have a say in politics if you aren’t 18 yet. Very often on social media, there are teens who tend to say things like  “You can’t vote, why do you care so much.” It’s important to be aware at a young age, you don’t have to be 18 in order to care about your future. Next year seniors will be able to vote for NYC’s elections, including who will become the mayor, comptroller, public advocate, ⅘ Borough President’s, etc. This may be one of New York’s biggest local elections in a while. Make sure to register to vote as soon as you can, and partake in your local elections. An important way to know which candidate you may be interested in is by looking at a scorecard. A scorecard is any ranked balanced scorecard used to rank candidates for legislative office on their voting record. Here is an example of a Racial Justice scorecard created by a bi-partisan youth organization called YVote, which I am a part of. If you are interested in making a difference beyond the polls and are interested in issues like; racial justice, criminal justice, gender justice, inequality, environmental justice, LGBTQ+ justice, and immigration justice, YVote is the perfect place for you, everyone is welcoming and you can use your voice freely, it’s a judgment-free zone. All you have to do is be in high school and show interest. There are many other organizations just like YVote, if you’re interested look into IntegrateNYC and Next Generation Politics. Here are their websites so you can learn more on your own: https://integratenyc.org/, https://www.nextgenpolitics.org/. There are so many organizations just like these, they’re only a click away.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s