October 14, 2014

Importance of the Youth Vote

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

Election Day is just around the corner, and this year I’m calling on all of our youth to get out there and vote!  Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves, and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”  The youth vote is something that has the potential to make a huge impact on the upcoming election, and that potential is far too valuable to waste.

The most relevant issues right now revolve around our youth, including everything from education funding to accessible healthcare.  Possibly the most prevalent issue right now is that of healthcare and Scott Walker’s refusal to accept federal dollars and fully expand Medicaid.  This fiscally reckless mistake has cost our state taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and resulted in the loss of healthcare for 38,000 Wisconsinites.  It is unacceptable.  Your post-college years are a vulnerable time, and it’s absolutely crucial that you have access to healthcare during that period.  But Wisconsin still has a chance to make the right decision in the next state budget.  These issues are important, which is why politicians are paying attention to how young people feel about them.  You have the chance to participate in these decisions by voting.  By electing representatives that share your beliefs, you are voicing your own opinions and effectively making your voice heard.  So speak up!  Share how you feel about healthcare, the voter ID law, or Scott Walker’s job creation failure.  If you want to see a change in our state, you need to be the change.

The youth vote has proved its potential to make a difference in past elections, specifically the 2012 presidential election.  In fact, it may have been one of the main deciding factors in that election.  President Obama won 60% of the youth vote, while Governor Romney won only 37%.  Recent studies have shown that if Obama and Romney had split the youth vote 50/50, Romney may have won the election instead.

So the youth vote had a huge impact on the 2012 election, and it will likely have an even bigger impact on the upcoming election.  Young people make up 21% of the United States voter population – that’s 46 million people!  But of those 46 million youth, only about half of them are voting.  So while you may argue that “one vote doesn’t matter,” what about 23 million votes?  America is losing its faith in the youth vote.  It’s time to restore America’s faith.

Your vote as a young person counts in ways you may never have imagined.  You are the next generation.  Voting now and participating in political decisions will ensure that you have a future to look forward to.  If you want a future with a job, accessible healthcare, and anything else that is important to you, you need to fight for it.  Our country’s youth are a strong driving force behind elections, and you have the potential to make that force even stronger.  Fight for your future.

If nothing else, simply vote because you can.  The right to vote is an incredible gift.  It is the right to participate, to speak, to believe.  You are given that gift the second you turn 18, and it’s time to take advantage of it.  This is my call to action!  For more information on the process or to register to vote, visit: myvote.wi.gov.  Get out there and vote this Election Day.  Who knows what you may accomplish!