According to an article in the Dayton Daily News this week, the national voter turnout for the 18-29 age group in this year’s midterm election was 20.4 percent, down from what was already a low 25 percent in the 2006 midterms. In the presidential election in 2008, 51 percent of voters in this age group showed up at the polls to vote.
With less than a quarter of 18-year-olds to 29-year-olds voting in these midterms, how can anyone claim they really care? Ask yourself, did you vote in this election? If the answer is no, now ask yourself, why not? This being Knox, there is a good chance that you might be a liberal, and now, for the next few years, you are going to be complaining about how the Republicans swept the U.S. House of Representatives, even though you did not take the time to put in your two cents, which you probably thought did not even matter. You should not complain if you did not do everything in your power to change what you didn’t want to see happen.
And the thing is, your vote does matter. There is a whopping 80 percent of our age demographic that we really could have used in this election; whether they are a Republican or a Democrat really is not as important as making people care about this election, and future elections, at all.
While people might not turn out as much during a midterm election as they do during a presidential election, the turnout should still be higher than this. If you care about the 17th district of Illinois (where you attend college), do you care that Democrat Congressman Phil Hare was unseated and replaced by Republican Congressman Bobby Schilling? Maybe these issues are not important to you, but consider for a moment how you feel about Schilling opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants, opposing stem cell research and opposing abortion. We have to remember that midterm elections deal with the same issues that presidential elections deal with, but on a local level.
Did that 51 percent turnout in 2008 simply happen because people wanted to say, later in life, “I voted in the election of the first black president of the United States?” If so, people are losing the sight of what the power of voting can potentially do in every election.
It is easy to become apathetic when we have always seen a pathetically low voter turnout for us young’uns. It is a cyclical nightmare; if one year, not enough of us vote and we do not get the change we want, the next time midterms or a presidential election come around, we will be more likely to give up before we try. We will not remember the power of that 51 percent.