USF is centered in San Francisco, a city that hosts numerous political events including the Women’s March, rallies, and environmental awareness forums. By attending USF, we have committed ourselves to a politically active community. However, many college students nationally, including some of us at the University, are not voting. This is giving the majority of political voice — the voices represented in the results of elections — to older generations due to their overwhelming participation in elections as compared to any other demographic. In fact, the United States Census found citizens 65 years and older had a 70.9 percent turnout in the 2016 election in comparison to the 46.1 percent turnout of the 18-29 age group.
According to Medium, many Americans believe their votes will not matter in the face of an overpowering Electoral College system. However, the College simply holds representatives that vote for the majority in their particular states, and it is important we all vote in order to get that majority represented as accurately as possible.
The voices of our generation have the power to tip the scale and shape the country for our futures. So how do we convince college students to be committed to voting?
First, high school students need to be properly educated about their basic Constitutional rights and duties as citizens to vote. Proper knowledge about why we vote is crucial if we intend to see higher turnout. Once young people know how to vote, and know the importance of exercising the right to do so, social media can help keep them stay engaged.
Our generation connects with the world through these platforms, and they provide pathways to deliver messages. Many have probably noticed various social media sites promoting voting. Snapchat promoted National Voter Registration Day by alerting its users of a temporary tab which linked to a voter registration website. Google had their daily homepage decorated for the occasion with an accessible link to register online. And Twitter released a campaign under #BeAVoter to promote the necessity of voter participation among young people. Promotion through social media platforms is a clever way to reach college-aged voters as it uses current trends to communicate the importance of voting and displays how truly easy it is to register to vote and become a politically active citizen.
There is hope for our generation to make a change in our voter turnout rate, and although the statistic mentioned before is shocking, the good news is the 2016 election actually showed an increase in the youngest voting age group. While all other age groups saw a slight decline in voter turnout, 18-29-year olds brought their participation up by 1.1 percent. This is no insignificant number; we should be proud of this accomplishment and strive to make our numbers increase even more in future political events. With the midterm elections just around the corner, we have the power to make our voices heard. Let’s be the change and turn politics around to reflect our future. We should not be silent.