Last fall, I was sitting in a political science class when the professor turned the topic to being politically active. He started asking questions and counting the answers.
Only one person in the class had ever sent a letter to the editor of a local paper sharing their views: me. Only one person had ever posted a sign on their property supporting a candidate: me.
I was the only person, save the professor, who even knew what a caucus meeting was, let alone who had attended one. And I was one of only three students who had ever voted. Why, you may ask, did I stand out in this very informal poll? Is it because I’m brilliant?
Thank you, but no. Perhaps I’m a political geek who finds CSPAN fascinating? No. Brown-nosing? No. The only difference between me and the other students is that I’m 10 to 15 years older.
It didn’t take long for the question to form in my brain: How can a generation that is so focused on doing things their own way and having their own voice be so apathetic about one of the most powerful rights we as American citizens hold?
Who votes in America? Your grandma. Traditionally, the 65 and older age group has the highest percentage of voters in America, while 18-24 year olds are the lowest. Look over some of the biggest concerns being addressed by Congress today; there are a lot of programs for senior citizens. Medicaid, Medicare, the prescription drug plan, Social Security.
Coincidence? I think not. If the 18-24 age group became the strongest voting machine in America, we would see significantly more focus on Federal Financial Aid guidelines, Internet Privacy Laws, a possible draft, and rising college tuition. Yet an unscientific poll of my own classes at Utah Valley State College, taken on November 7, 2007 — the day after an election — showed that out of 140 students of eligible age, only 24 were registered to vote and only 10 actually voted. Pathetic.
It’s not hard, people! I have been voting for many years now, and I’m still a little uncomfortable with how easy it is to do. Send in a card, give them my name, and poke a hole in a little card. With touch-screen voting machines, I don’t even have to risk hanging chads. It’s far easier than creating a Facebook page. You probably spent more time choosing what to wear today than I did voting in the primaries. (Yes, there have already been several elections this year. You missed them.)
Guys, I’m giving you a heads up here. In case you haven’t been paying attention, there is a huge election right around the corner. You still have time to register. You still have time to research. Stop being slackers and give granny a run for her money.