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Political Column: With the Midterms Approaching, Here is Why You Should Vote

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Zakary Will, Columnist

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Only one year remains until the 2018 midterm elections, and citizens of Neenah will have a plethora of political options. All of the state executives-Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Attorney General Brad Schimel, Secretary of State Doug La Follette, and Treasurer Matt Adamczyk — will be up for reelection according to Ballotpedia. Neenah’s legislators — Rep. Glenn Grothman, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, State Sen. Roger Roth, and State Assembly Rep. Mike Rohrkaste — also must run for reelection next year. Young people, like NHS students, make up a large portion of the potential electorate. In the City of Neenah, people between the ages of 18 and 34 comprise 21.7 percent of the population as of 2015, according to Data USA. Many current seniors and juniors at NHS are already 18, or will turn 18 by the time of the elections next year. These students, and other young adults in the city, have the potential to heavily influence the results of these many elections. If past trends for midterm elections hold true, however, they will not. A report from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) revealed that only 19.9 percent of 18-29 year-olds voted in the 2014 midterms. Even more troubling, the report stated that these numbers are only slightly lower than recent midterms. I believe that young people need to make their political voices heard. Because of the current political climate, there is simply too much at stake in 2018 for young voters to stay home.

Many young people refrain from voting because they believe that their votes will not make a difference. In essence, according to an article from Paste, they are turning their backs on “a system deemed to be too irrevocably damaged to be fixed.” Others believe that politicians are unable to directly impact their lives, and that the federal government no longer has the ability to fulfill the will of the people.

The recent debate over gun control following the recent Las Vegas shooting demonstrates this viewpoint perfectly. After this tragic day, a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll  showed a majority of voters supported increased gun control and stricter background checks. Despite this fact, no new restrictions have been put into place by Congress. The desire of the public could not be more clear, yet it was not followed up by any federal action.

To a certain extent, this viewpoint makes sense. Or at least the common justification behind it does. Many people refrain from voting due to the belief that their one vote will not make a difference. A plethora of articles all over the Internet seem to support this fact. Googling the simple phrase “my one vote won’t count” brings up over one million results.

This viewpoint is even more than incorrect. It is dangerous. It might be true that one individual vote would not necessarily change the nation. But what about one hundred? One thousand? One hundred thousand? One million?

Roughly 20 percent of young voters cast their votes in the 2014 midterms. Conversely, roughly 80 percent of young voters did not turn up on election day. An article from the Pew Research Center reveals that the number of Millenials eligible to vote is nearly identical to the number of Baby Boomers, with 69.2 million individuals compared with 69.7 million.  If the vast majority of Millenials refuse to vote, then it will be impossible for the government to accurately reflect the views of the people. All of the potential voting power in the world is meaningless if young people refuse to use it.

This essentially creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. Young people do not vote because the government does not accurately reflect their views. The government, however, does not reflect their views precisely because young people do not vote. Why should politicians attempt to appeal to young people who likely will not turn up on election day? Why should young people turn up to vote for politicians who do not attempt to appeal to them? This loop could repeat for eternity. And that is exactly what it is doing right now.

If young people do not begin to vote in vastly higher quantities than they currently do, then the government will never change. If the government does not change, then young people will feel even less inclined to vote. This needs to stop. Immediately. We need things to change, and we need the change to happen fast. And it can only come from us.

In the state of Wisconsin, registration can occur online, by mail, or in person. In order to be a legally eligible voter one must be 18 years old on or by election day, hold U.S. citizenship, and have lived in the area for 28 days. Voters also may not be incarcerated, on parole, or on probation. More details regarding voter registration are available on the DMV website.

We need to vote as soon as we turn 18, and encourage our friends to vote as well. In times like these, we can no longer afford to be political bystanders. We need to vote in primaries, instead of voting for the lesser of two evils. We need to research candidates, and understand the issues as best as we can. The politicians will not change unless we force them. The politicians will not change unless we vote.

 

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1 Comment

One Response to “Political Column: With the Midterms Approaching, Here is Why You Should Vote”

  1. Joe Delaney on February 21st, 2018 9:03 PM

    Most high school students are part of generation Z, in my estimation our generation is more politically active than millennials. I also think voting is one of those rights of passage once you turn 18, you buy a lottery ticket, vote and all men have to register for the draft. I believe that we will see a rise in the near future of young people voting because of these factors.

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Political Column: With the Midterms Approaching, Here is Why You Should Vote