By sitting this election out, voters reject candidates

The Southerner

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In the weeks before the class of 2012 headed off to college, I spoke with many of the students about voting in the presidential election this fall. I was dumbfounded to learn that of all the people going off to do great things, only half of them had even bothered to register to vote. There is a real possibility of low voter turnout among youth in this presidential election. But it’s not too late to change this.

A poll taken in July by the Pew Research Center states that Americans under 30 are significantly less interested in this election than they were in the 2008 election. According to the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, 2 million more people from ages 18-24 voted in the 2008 election than in 2004, and the number of young adults voting in 2012 will shrink dramatically.

It seems to me there are two possible reasons for the declining 18-to-29-year-old voter registration this year: the apathy among teenagers (or more accurately the lack thereof) and the frustration among idealists. Some may say that young adults are too busy to care about the election. To be fair, high school and college students do have a lot on our minds this year; deciding what our future holds is obviously an important priority, which makes it easy to forget the immediate picture.

Young people have a role to play for our country’s future, and it’s time we own up to it. To all the apathetic teenagers out there, I am disappointed in your lack of political involvement, and I hope to strike a chord within your dismissive hearts.

In the last 50 years, young people have been key to movements that have changed our world: ending the Vietnam war, slowing the nuclear arms race and, more recently, putting the first African-American in the Oval Office. To the frustrated idealists, I feel for you. Obama built his ‘08 campaign by appealing to young voters, and some of his promises have not been kept. However, we shouldn’t forget his major accomplishments. Healthcare reform, which has extended coverage for millions of Americans who previously were denied care, increased rights for LGBTQ Americans.

Choosing to stand aside instead of standing up won’t change a thing. If I was of age to vote, I would seize the opportunity to make a difference. I know everyone thinks that one person can’t change the world, but 2 million can and did! There’s no reason to lose hope, and if we unite ourselves, we can change even more.

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