In 1776, you decided that you didn’t want to be part of the English monarchy anymore; George Washington gathered an army, loaded his gun and in 1783 defeated the British and installed the grand old US of A – land of the free, home of the brave. You valued the freedom of men, and voting is that freedom. For roughly 80% of millennials it seemed like a large task, but I assure you it isn’t and is indeed worth your time. Even just for the ‘I Voted’ sticker they give you.
You’ve probably heard all your life that voting is important; you can probably even list the main reasons your high school civics teacher installed in your head why you should vote. I know I can. Even growing up in England where we still have a Queen (we also do have a parliamentary system), but over there we don’t take such pride in our nationality. We don’t sing the national anthem at sports games, or pledge allegiance at the start of class; you guys love America and freedom. The sad truth, however, is that a lot of you have not been voting. The 2014 midterms saw a 21.3% turnout for millennials, which is disappointing when you consider that the millennial vote was vital for Barack Obama in the 2008 election, and more recently in 2012 when young voters won him key states like Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. In both of these general elections, about 50% of young people eligible voted.
The midterms are just as important, as the congressman you elected into office may find his party has lost a large amount of seats in the House of Representatives. This is where all the federal laws are made, making it increasingly difficult for your party to pass any new laws.
The local government is also suffering from low-voter turnout, from all demographics, even though these lawmakers have the power to directly affect you and your home, including raising property taxes and assigning where your tax dollars go. The local races go under the radar because millions of dollars aren’t being spent on the campaigns. It’s important to share your voice whenever you can. Only then can we start to see some positive progress. Voting doesn’t start at the general election; right now the primaries are happening, with the Connecticut primary taking place on April 26th. If you’ve turned on the news within the last few months, at anytime of day, you may have caught something about it.
Registering to vote is easy since many states offer a way to register online. To vote, you have to be a United States citizen and a resident in the state you are voting. You also have to be over the age of eighteen and not currently serving a prison sentence or be on parole or any other post-release supervision. You will also need to provide valid identification (either a driver’s license or a state-issued ID, even your gun license will suffice in some states). However, only thirty-one states offer online registration. If you’re in one of the unlucky ones, then you can register through a National Mail Voter Register Form or by going to your state’s voter registration offices.
You will also need to register thirty days before the general election. In Connecticut the deadline is October 9th. Anytime after that you will not be eligible to register. Shortly after you have registered you should receive your voting card. The only thing to do after that is check where your local polling station is. Easy, right?
I’m not going to tell you whom you should vote for, but I will suggest that you research the policies of each candidate and check if you see eye-to-eye on economical or social matters. The temptation is to go with whom your family votes for, or with the snippets you read on social media, but you won’t get the whole picture. You fought for this, America! Your vote matters, so make it count.