Young people nowadays don’t vote, this much is certain. But low youth voter turnout at the polls isn’t just limited to the kids of today.
An April study by the US Census Bureau notes that in every presidential election since 1964, “young voters between the ages of 18-24 have consistently voted lower than all other age groups, although young-adult age groups have fluctuated from one election to another.”
So if the past 5 decades have been more or less the same as far as getting younger voters to actually cast a vote, why do Millennials, or those loosely aged 18 to 34, catch so much flak?
“I’m taken aback every time I hear this condescending presumption that young people are lazy, stupid, and not paying attention,” writes Ashley Spillane, president of mega youth outreach group Rock the Vote, for a recent article on Medium. Critics of the youngest voting age generation, whose population will soon tally 95 million in America, say that if Millennials don’t know the issues, they do more harm than good and therefore shouldn’t be encouraged to vote.
Like Spillane, this logic appalls us. The Millennial generation takes so much heat because they are the most connected generation in history. They either were exposed to the internet at a very formative age or are young enough to where they don’t even know a world without it. Clearly this is a massive difference in how they perceive the world and predisposes them to conducting as much of their lives as possible in cyberspace.
Older generations to whom the internet is more of a novelty or simply a way to do a few things more quickly dismiss them as disaffected and apathetic because they don’t seem to live in the same world. Well…duh.
Millennials will not only be the largest voting bloc in the country once they are all of voting age, they will be burdened with a vast array of issues created by prior generations that will reach critical mass long after Baby Boomers have fallen out of power. So to get them civically engaged and invested in the process of voting and how it has the power to transform a world that they feel powerless over in their youth, we must meet them where they are. Simply dismissing them as uninformed (some of them are, but many aren’t), is to dismiss the entire future of this country.
It’s not a catch-all solution by any means, but Voter’s Edge is a one-stop online resource for trusted information young voters can use to cut through the partisan rhetoric, the paid advertising and the millions of dollars of dark money to make intelligent decisions about who they want representing their interests at all levels of government. Watch the above video and learn about how this joint effort between MapLight and the League of Women Voter’s of California Education Fund is the best, most comprehensive online resource yet to inch those all-important Millennials a bit closer to the polls on November 4th.