Elections are always filled with an intense buzz. Elections often bring change — hopefully positive change.
When an election takes place, there are debates, die-hard supporters and advertisements everywhere you look. It doesn’t matter what side you’re on, the party you align with or even if you participate in voting. An election is important to all sides.
You may only notice the presidential election and maybe a few others as well. However, elections happen all the time throughout the U.S., from the low profile local positions such as city mayor to student government. While these positions can be elected at any time throughout the year and are typically up for re-election sooner, they typically get much less attention.
It is no secret that the presidential elections render much more attention from the public than smaller local elections. Presidential elections typically have a turnout that is much greater. Just showing the disparity between midterm elections (in which all representatives, one-third of senators and many local positions are up for reelection) and presidential elections is at about 8.6 percent of voter turnout at the lowest point. However, even in the recent elections, there is about 60 percent of eligible voters that vote while only 40 percent of the voting population voted during midterm elections, according to nonprofit organization Fair Vote.
But beyond comparing midterm elections to Presidential elections, the turnout rate has decreased significantly over the years for all elections. In fact, the United States is severely behind in voter turnout compared to international standards. The Pew Research Center showed that in 2016, 86.8 percent of registered voters or 55.7 percent of the voting-age population turned out to vote.In 2016, the number of registered voters grew to 200 million. Among developed countries, the U.S. currently ranks 15th out of 18th, according to the Pew Research Center. That number is truly far below what would be expected of the United States. Even if the United States would like to increase the number, how would they?
When looking at the voting population, it is clear to see where the votes lack in terms of age group. According to exit polls by CNN recorded in 2016, registered voters 45 and older made up 56 percent of votes. The millennial generation via the polls reported the lowest participation. The millennial generation is beginning to gain traction in the world through education, careers and other aspects of daily life as it grows older. It is important to remember that the actions or inaction will create an impact that will affect more people than just the millennial generation.
For that reason alone, we as the millennial generation need to set our phones down, leave the keyboard at our desk and head to the polls.
Our voices can always be heard on social media, protests and an array of other outlets. Yet, if we would like our voice to make a difference, we must let our voice be heard through political action. Take the time year-round, not just during a presidential election, to put that action into action.
Austin O’Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org