SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va., – Days filled with classes, meetings, or dinner out with friends are what normally take up much of a young voter’s time.
Registering to vote is generally not high on anyone’s list of things they need to do, with this demographic being no different. But, with almost four years of constant politically polarized stories filling Twitter feeds, this year may shape up to be a bit different.
Most know when they turn 18, they are eligible to vote. Just like, we know it’s our civic duty to do so.
For first time voters, it is easier said then done. If you don’t know where to look, it can be hard to find out what you need to do, and this alone can turn people off from voting.
The New York Times talked with experts who suggested that there be an effort made to educate first-time voters on how to register and when, how a ballot works and how to fill it out, and where to go to cast your ballot once you are registered.
Colleges help by holding voter registration drives. Alyssa Nazarok, president of the Shepherd University Democrats Organization, part of Young Democrats of America, said, “The organization has done about a dozen voter registration drives on campus.” Efforts were made to find out if other organizations were holding voter registration drives too, but no response was given.
Registration is an important first step, but it is not the main one when it comes to voting. Showing up to cast your vote is what counts, and most people only do that if they are motivated and feel like their vote will count.
Riley Gladhill,19, who is not currently registered, but plans to register, said, “I think it is important to exercise the civil liberties we are given, even if it doesn’t seem to make a difference.”
NPR reported in September that according to the Brookings Institution, young voters make up about the same amount of the eligible voting body as Boomers and pre-Boomers do at 37%.
This shows that young voters may make the difference this election if they are motivated to vote. Voters like Gladhill’s friend, Robert Lissner, 18, who is registered to vote said, “I am voting because I can, and I know that it is very important because it affects many people.”
He also found that others were motivated too. This would include people like his sisters and his friend, Anthony Shires, 19, who is also registered. He said he’s voting because, “I’d like to see Trump stay in office.”
A recent Forbes article highlighted the fact that voting turnout by youth voters has normally been low in past elections, but that a Harvard Youth Poll showed that 63% of voters aged 18 to 29 would “definitely” be voting in this year’s election. If these young voters were to follow through, it would be on par with the election of 2008 and possibly exceed it with the biggest turnout since 1984.
Although they did not take a poll at their registration event, Alyssa said, “The voters I interacted with seem more engaged than in previous years. I am unsure how informed they are. They seemed, though, eager to vote and happy someone was asking them if they are registered.”