Even with voter registration rolls increasing in California, it’s no secret that young people tend to shy away from voting more than older people do.
And this Election Day, extraordinary though the campaign season is, likely will be no different. The Public Policy Institute of California estimates that Americans ages 18 to 34 will make up only 17 percent of the country’s likely voters in November.
Those are the same millennials who flocked to former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and his “political revolution.” Now that he has dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination, many of his more ardent supporters have vowed to skip the polls in November, even though the Vermont senator endorsed Hillary Clinton earlier this week.
Sanders might not be in the race anymore, but there are plenty of reasons to turn out at the polls. Here are five reasons:
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Sanders ignited his revolution with promises to help a generation of young people and their families who are drowning in debt from skyrocketing tuition and fees. It’s a real issue, as many millennials know.
Clinton wisely released a proposal that would forgive loans for at least 25 million borrowers. She also has promised to make in-state public colleges and universities tuition free by 2021 for families making less than $125,000 a year.
That’s a reason to vote that will actually pay off.
Millennials care about the health of a world they have to live in long after most baby boomers are gone. One of the most effective means of ensuring that is to elect leaders who will implement policies to combat climate change.
Nobody can solve this problem on his or her own. But by taking the simple step of voting for candidates at all levels of government who will make the environment a priority, the country can continue down the path laid out by President Barack Obama and Gov. Jerry Brown to cut carbon emissions.
This one might not be as obvious. For those who study abroad or enjoy traveling, the nation’s position on foreign affairs is vitally important to its relationships with other countries. That goes for countries in Europe, recently shaken by Britain’s exit from the European Union, and in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
Millennials are globally engaged, understanding completely that the world is indeed flat. For this reason, it’s important to vote for leaders who represent those values.
U.S. Supreme Court
The next president of the United States will decide who is appointed to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia in the U.S. Supreme Court. Critically important decisions hang in the balance.
Among them, laws that ensure the hard-fought rights of women and gays and lesbians remain intact. Campaign finance laws, another hot-button issue for Sanders and his young supporters, could to come before the court again. Vote for someone who will take you into consideration when nominating the next justice.
A voice in society
This year, more than in many years, there’s talk of how voting doesn’t make a difference. The system is “rigged,” some say. But millennials make up about 32 percent of the U.S. population, up there with baby boomers for the biggest group eligible to vote. It was the youngest of Americans, through their support for upstart Sanders, who got the Democratic Party and its presumptive nominee to consider a far more progressive agenda than planned.
No matter which candidates you support, your vote matters. Remember this come November.