Midterm elections, young people and awareness

The 2018 general election is just six weeks away, and everybody has his or her eyes set on the young generation for a vote.

As of 2016, an estimated 62 million millennials (adults ages 20 to 35 in 2016) were voting-age U.S. citizens, coming close in number to the 70 million baby boomers (ages 52 to 70), according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

This puts high expectations on the young generation to show up and show out at the polls on Nov. 6. Although they are growing close to becoming the largest voting bloc, people have doubts about the younger generation putting their power into action.

In fact, millennials continue to have the lowest voter turnout of any age group. A recently released poll from the Public Religion Research Institute and the Atlantic conducted in June showed only 28 percent of young adults ages 18 to 29 say they are “absolutely certain” they’ll vote in midterms. Some of that uncertainty can possibly come from the lack of awareness among young people. This lack of awareness can range from knowing how to register to vote to knowing what the ballot consists of, which can result in complete disengagement.

This shortage of awareness fits the mission of Andrew Klutey, who is a Florida organizer for the Public Interest Research Group New Voters Project. “We want to support students to find their political voice,” said Klutey.

The organization has helped register nearly one million students to vote throughout the 1980s. With the desire to make it easier for students to vote, Klutey says in just two and a half weeks PIRG has registered 1,700 students to vote in the city of Tallahassee. Florida A&M University makes up about 140 of those registered, while Florida State University makes up about 1,500 of those registered.

Whether younger generations will be the majority of voters in this year’s midterm elections will depend on how many of those who are eligible actually turn out to vote.

Mikal Trigg, a FAMU senior biology-environmental policy student, says she takes voting seriously with the hopes of influencing her peers to do the same. “I don’t think they understand the bigger picture. Politics, voting and campaigns are seen as a big mess,” said Trigg.

In order to reverse the disengagement by young people, Trigg explains the importance of making engagement as easy as possible for them. “One thing I learned about our age group is that we don’t like to be pressured into making decisions. You have to want to seek out the very attainable information,” said Trigg.

Midterms allow the state of Florida a chance to decide how they’ll shape the future of Donald Trump’s presidency and the climate of American politics for years to come. With the power of numbers and the power that young people have in numbers, the youth is literally the future.