According to records at University of California Santa Barbara, the 2008 United States elections held the largest voter turnout since 1968, yet nearly two thirds of the American voting population didn’t even cast a ballot.
How can this be? America, the oldest continuous democracy, isn’t voting?
Believe it. The Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. estimated the United States had the ninth-lowest voting rate in 2008 out of 35 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Could this be the American laziness stereotype coming to fruition? Or perhaps a tragic disconnect from an American privilege?
Critics are divided. Either way, one thing is certain; citizens who do not utilize their right to vote won’t have their voice heard in elections.
It’s important to note today’s young voters between the ages of 18 and 29 hold a very unique spot in the voting population.
As of 2015, the US Census Bureau estimated the millennial generation (18-34 in 2015) has surpassed the baby boomers (51-69 in 2015) as America’s largest generation. Millennials have the numbers.
According to the United States Election Project in 2012, however, voters ages 45-60+ amassed a turnout rate of nearly 70 percent, while voters ages 18-29 straggled in with barely 40 percent.
The fact of the matter is millennial voters have the opportunity to add diversity to the voting results and therefore create a more accurate and realistic idea of who and what America wants for the future.
Admittedly, voting can be intimidating and can often seem one-sided. It’s not uncommon nor is it far-fetched to believe voting doesn’t really matter because the chance one vote will make difference is next to zero.
Ironically, this concept is based on the flawed assumption that there is no reason to vote if that vote won’t decide the election.
The National Bureau of Economic Research estimated a single voter has a one in 60 million chance to be the decisive vote in a presidential election.
Voting in a democracy is about the people, not the individual. Period.
Though it’s near impossible for a single voter to decide a large-scale election, if everyone casted a ballot it could happen.
Let’s not forget that voting isn’t all about the president. It isn’t just their name on the ballot.
Simply put, a president is only as good as their House of Representatives or Senate, two entities that essentially make or break anything the next president plans to do.
If nothing else, voting is a way to systematically and justifiably complain, not only about elected officials, but legislation.
This year’s election is a chance to hold elected officials accountable for the things they promise, but the voice of the people is needed to make that happen.