Imagine winning a Congressional seat by one vote, or something even crazier—a tie that is settled by drawing a card. These are the circumstances that landed Democratic candidate Charles B. Smith of New York a seat in Congress in 1910 and Republican Randall Luthi a seat in the Wyoming House of Representatives in 1994, respectively. These instances demonstrate the power of one ballot, one voter and one voice in changing who leads our country.
Yet, here we are, with only 56 percent of eligible American voters participating in the 2016 election, compared to the voter turnout rates in Belgium (87.2 percent), Sweden (82.6 percent) and Denmark (80.3 percent), according to the Pew Research Center. What’s even more disquieting is an analysis done by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement that discovered that only about 50 percent of eligible voters between the ages of 18 to 29 voted in the 2016 general election.
Why don’t young people vote? Because many believe “My vote doesn’t matter.” This dangerous assumption leaves huge portions of our population voiceless in government. Sadly, many young people believe their one vote would not make a visible impact in a huge population.
“Some people may believe their votes do not matter because they have lost hopes in their ability to change the programs they are voting for or against,” said Anilda Rodriguez, an 18-year-old student from Dorchester who will be a first-time voter this November.
Just imagine the policy shifts the U.S. would face if all young people voted in every local, state and federal election. It is with this mindset that many young adults are entering the upcoming elections. A recent survey by the Harvard Institute of Politics found an increased enthusiasm for political participation, especially among Democrats. It seems as though the chaotic administration in the White House may have a reckoning on their hands.
The significant changes that would occur if young people voted in huge numbers will be unforeseen in the history of U.S. elections. The issues and problems we fight for in our daily lives will be in our hands, and we can have a real chance of upending those of the older generation.
“I believe in youth power and I think that by allowing teens to vote, we are able to elect those who will actually help make the world a better place,” said Sonny Mei, an 18-year-old student from Dorchester who will also be a first-time voter. “I also believe we [young adults] are more open-minded and will be able to tackle issues that are often ignored—issues that affect minorities and the less privileged groups around the country.”
In light of the current political state, it is more important than ever that young people vote. Major political issues are making headlines, and for real, long-lasting results to occur, young people need to be engaged and politically present.
Make Your Voice Heard
Make Your Voice Heard
Where can I register to vote?
You can register in-person at the Department of Motor Vehicles, armed service recruitment centers, and public assistance offices [SNAP/Food Stamps, WIC, Services for the Disabled].
The Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, William Francis Galvin, also has an online forum that makes it easy and simple to register or pre-register to vote at www. sec.state.ma.us.
How do I know when to vote?
To keep up with all the upcoming elections, visit turbovote.org, where you can subscribe to alerts about all the elections happening in your district.