If you are horrified by school shootings, if you are furious that pollution is on the rise again, if you don’t want DACA kids deported, Muslims banned or transgenders thrown out of the military, then you need to vote for your life!
If you care about any of these issues — either pro or con — or about a host of other issues — sexual harassment, equal pay for equal work, access to healthcare, protection of a free press, Russian meddling in elections, interest rates on student loans, and whether or not you want Donald Trump to build a wall — then you have to vote. The bottom line is that you can’t complain about Donald Trump disrespecting women or about Congress letting 17-year-olds buy assault weapons, if you don’t vote. So, the #1 reason that you need to vote is to make sure that you are electing public officials that represent your views and will fight to implement them. It’s fantastic if you protested in the March For Our Lives, the Women’s Marches or the March For Science, and more, but if you don’t register to vote and use your power by voting at the polls in the midterm elections and in your own local elections, then protesting is meaningless.
As Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg tweeted on March 27, “Love and voting are the only two things that will solve this [referring to gun violence]. Reguardless of your opinions, I think we can all agree that america needs to become more politically active. #VoteForOurLives.” That’s right, you need to vote for your life. Literally, as David and all the Parkland students tragically experienced. If you don’t vote for politicians who support sensible gun laws, then it could be you one day desperately trying to escape from gunfire.
Likewise, if you don’t vote for politicians who believe in climate change and support laws limiting pollution, you could be facing catastrophic changes to the environment in your lifetime. If you don’t vote for politicians who support affordable health insurance for all, like Obamacare, you could end up without healthcare and YOUR health could be on the line. There can be huge consequences to you, personally, if you don’t register and vote. As Andy Bernstein, the founder of Headcount, a non-profit organization which registers young people to vote, told HollywoodLife.com exclusively, “Whether it’s life or death things like our relationship to North Korea or every day things like whether pot holes get fixed — if we don’t vote, then we are giving the power to people who we might not agree with.”
And guess what — you, if you are a millennial, especially have the power to change election results in the 2018 midterms. In 2018, your generation, millennials, will become the largest generation of eligible voters! You’re surpassing Baby Boomers! There are about 80 million millennials in your generation — 32% of the voting population this year — and this means that if you go out and vote in high numbers, you can do what David Hogg and the other Parkland students have been urging — you can elect politicians who represent YOU!
The problem in the past has been that you, young people, have traditionally voted in elections far less than your parents and grandparents. So, it’s their voices that get heard, not yours. Less than half of millennials voted in the 2016 presidential election, versus 61 percent of voters 65 and older. And, it gets even worse in the midterm elections. Only 19.9% of people under 30 typically vote in midterms!
If you disagree strongly with some or any of Donald Trump’s policies, or if you support them, then you need to register to vote ASAP and get to the polls on November 6, 2018. So, what might be holding you back from getting registered? Do you think that it’s too hard to do? Many young people “overestimate how difficult a process it is to register,” explains Carolyn DeWitt, the president of Rock The Vote, a non-profit devoted to registering young people to vote. In fact, in most states, you don’t even need a driver’s license and it takes only about 90 seconds to do! You can go on to RockTheVote.com, Headcount.org, and LeagueOfWomenVoters.com, all of which can easily register you to vote in a step-by-step process, including by text message! Even for states that are more difficult to register in, the sites will walk you through all the specific requirements you’ll need to meet the requirements. The thing is — once you’re registered, you’ll be able to vote in every and all federal, state, and local elections to come! “Voting is habit forming,” points out DeWitt, from Rock The Vote.
Jeannette Senecal, the Senior Director of Elections for the League of Women Voters, a 98-year-old non-profit which also registers millennials to vote, is optimistic that you, young people, will change history and get registered to vote, and then vote in the midterms. “The things that keep our democracy healthy are being threatened on every side. People are seeing that there are fundamental electoral issues that have a deep and lasting impact on things you care about,” she says. “They have seen the results of their choice not to engage [if they didn’t vote.] If you want a different outcome, you have to take action — voting!”
Andy Bernstein from Headcount is optimistic, too. His team registered 1,552 new voters at the March For Our Lives in DC — the largest single registration event in the history of their organization, and 5,000 total at all the marches across the country. “I hope we’re on the cusp of big change,” he enthuses.
“I haven’t seen young people stepping up politically like this since the 1960s ( and the Viet Nam war),” observes DeWitt. “They have inherited a world in which they are told they don’t have the power to make changes, and yet they are being affected. They are saying, ‘Yes, we do have the power. Adults aren’t looking out for us, so we are going to do it…’ and comprising the biggest portion of the electorate now, they do have enormous power!”
Yes, you do. So, own your power, register to vote, and then get ready to vote. And FYI, there are Town Halls with candidates around the country coming up before the midterm election and Headcount.org plans to be at many of them to register you, in-person, too!