Voter misconceptions cloud millennial voters

Isabella Ashton, Reporter

Young people don’t vote. Or at least that is the stereotype. The millennial generation has received criticism for their apparent apathy towards voting, and have even been called lazy. These sentiments are not completely unfounded.

According to an analysis done by Pew shared in an article by NPR, “In the 2012 election, voters between the ages of 18-29 made up just 19 percent of the electorate — that’s half the share of the Baby Boomer voting bloc, who were 38 percent of the electorate.”

There are various reasons for low voter turnout. For one thing, millennials have shifted away from organized politics. According to an article by the Pew Research Center, 41% of millennials identify as independents, and in an article, by The Atlantic, it shared that 8% of 18-29-year-olds backed neither Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in the recent presidential election.

For Generation Z, which encompasses those born from 1996 to 2010, many were not old enough to take part in the voting process. However, this didn’t stop them from being vocal about their opinions. Drew Holland, a sophomore said, “I can influence family members that are older, maybe my parents or grandparents. Tell them what I think and maybe show them what I feel is important.”

Sophomore Martha Degraffenried plans on sharing her political opinions as well. She said, “Well, just respectfully giving my opinion when it comes up, I feel like that could influence people that may not be as educated with other points of views.”

Holland and Degraffenried both want to vote once they are old enough. “[Voting] is a way to show what you want, and make your voice heard and to represent yourself and people like you,” Degraffenried said.

Not everyone thinks that voting is the best way to represent themselves. After this recent election, many voters and students have felt that their vote makes little difference in the outcome of elections.

Hillary Gonzales-Teixeira, a sophomore, said, “Despite one of the candidates getting the popular vote, the electoral college voted against them. It does feel that your vote doesn’t matter.”

Gonzales-Teixeira also said why she thought some of the people she knows chose not to vote in the recent presidential election, “They probably felt like the options weren’t what they wanted.”

Gonzales-Teixeira said that neither of the presidential candidates were appealing to some of her peers and that they might not have chosen to vote in order to “protect their moral purity.” Gonzales-Teixeira does not agree with that decision.

She said that they should have voted anyway, in order to express their opinions and to show support for the people who share their ideals.

But politicians are struggling to connect with young people who don’t already plan on voting. Ben Carson tried to appeal to potential young voters by making a radio rap ad, and Bernie Sanders made an appearance on The Ellen Show, sharing his favorite One Direction member (it’s Harry).

These campaigns were mostly unsuccessful. In a commentary on Youth Radio, first-time voter Amber Ly said, “Politicians seem to be talking down to young voters. They’re wasting time playing guitar or Snapchatting.”

Young voters are more concerned with concrete plans rather than politicians seeming hip. They want transparency over showiness. Although politicians are struggling to appeal to young voters, Gonzales-Teixeira does plan on voting once she turns eighteen, “I do plan on voting. It might not be the most effective way of changing things, but […] it lets your voice be heard and it also shows people that they have support for different topics and beliefs.”