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The Importance of Voting

BY: MOMAL RIZVI

Attending a school as politically active as American University can lead us to forget that the majority of college students aren't like us. If you attend AU, you've likely gone to a protest, are somewhat educated about the upcoming election, or you're registered to vote. However, most young Americans can't relate. 

Eighteen to twenty-four-year-olds have the lowest voter turnout rate of any age group. In the November 2018 election, the turnout rate for 18-24-year-olds was 35.4 percent, while that of 65+-year-olds was almost double that amount.

So, why aren't the youth voting? There are a number of answers to that question. It all begins at a young age–– in the classroom. Schools aren't properly educating their students about political issues and the voting process. Only nine states and the District of Columbia require a full year of U.S. government or civics. Not only this but when U.S. government classes are being taught, teachers are required to steer the discussion away from current political issues, in order to avoid influencing the political beliefs of students.

When students aren't being taught about the way their government works, they develop the belief that their vote doesn't matter when it comes to the bigger picture.

In actuality, the youth vote is a powerful political force. In 2020, Millennials and Generation Z will account for almost 40 percent of the electorate, while the makeup of Baby Boomers and even older generations is decreasing. The younger generations are much more politically left-leaning than their older counterparts on a number of issues, including climate change, immigration, and gun reform. Along with this, Generation Z is the most diverse generation yet, with only 52 percent being non-Hispanic white.

The diversity and liberal views of this up-and-coming generation can have a huge impact on the 2020 Presidential election, especially when it comes to defeating current president Donald Trump. Take a look at Super Tuesday, Bernie Sanders won the youth vote in every single state. Young Americans are clearly favoring progressive candidates, and if more of the youth head to the polls, a huge change can be made in the current political climate of America.

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Young people need to realize that the current administration is not benefiting them. For example, in 2017, Donald Trump's budget proposal cut $3.9 billion dollars from the Pell Grant program, putting low-income and minority students at a major disadvantage.

In more recent times, Trump has had an insufficient response during the COVID-19 crisis. While the government suspended interest on all federal student loans, they did not suspend monthly payments, which would provide citizens with more relief. Under Donald Trump's presidency, DACA recipients have been detained, teen pregnancy prevention programs have been defunded, transgender students have been left unprotected in their schools, and the list continues to go on.

In order to secure a better future, the youth of America need to register to vote and go to the polls, especially in the upcoming primary elections and most certainly in November.

Check to see if you're registered to vote here: https://www.nass.org/can-I-vote


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