My name is Caroline. I am a 30 year old, which barely qualifies me as a millennial. However, I voted in the June 2012 primary, and that makes me a minority in a state where approximately 30 percent of just over 17 million registered voters actually took part in the act they are eligible to do.
I filled out my absentee ballot the day before the election but had to rush home from work to hand it in at my precinct. My precinct was consolidated with another for the primary and yet I was only the 60th person (at 7 p.m. on election day) to vote. The pollworkers were happy to give me an extra of those “I voted” stickers since there were plenty of leftover rolls.
Welcome to the world of an elder millennial who votes, wants to know why others don’t…and is setting out to improve voter participation levels one friend at a time.
I took a very unscientific poll of some good people I know who happen to be millennials. The sample group: all went to college, some post-graduate school, and all are gainfully employed. Only two of them voted. Here is a list of their occupations: soft goods stylist, corporate attorney, account manager, environmental policy director, hotel catering manager, website editor and high-school teacher.
[Bonus points if you can guess which of them voted.*]
The employment factor is key to point out as being uncharacteristic of many Millennials, especially younger ones, who are graduating from school, moving home (like 42 percent of those in California do) and desperately trying to find jobs. A Viewpoint Learning Study conducted by my very own employer found that 1 in 5 can’t land one.
The economy must be taken in account when you think about Millennials and voting. If you are online or pounding the pavement all day to find a job (maybe even from your parents’ home computer) obviously everything else – including voting – takes a backseat.
However, I work and volunteer in the political arena and I see the direct connection between the ballot and what jobs are available. I also had the access to higher education that allowed me to unlock the jobs that do exist. Needless to say, it is both concerning and bewildering that my peers aren’t voting.
So, with more questions than answers I invite you to join me continue to explore issues related to Millennials, voting and beyond. More to come!
*gold stars to anyone who guessed that the account manager and hotel catering manager were the voters in the group