Why Our Vote Matters!

The “youth vote” is one of those catchphrases we hear thrown around every four years around election time. Candidates will go to great lengths to appeal to younger voters, but what exactly is the youth vote? Why does it matter now?

In its simplest form, the youth vote refers to voters between the ages of 18 and 29. Historically, the youth vote has turned out to be radical, left leaning, and notably underrepresented. However, in the most recent presidential elections, the narrative is changing. In 2012’s presidential election, more than 22 million youth casted their ballots. That’s approximately 50% of all eligible voters in that age range. Then-Senator Barack Obama earned more than 60% of those votes. According to political analyses of the election, President Obama’s incredible influence among America’s youngest voters was the reason for his victory in several key states. If Mitt Romney had even split the youth vote, the outcome could have been very different.

Currently, we’re in the midst of a very important presidential campaign. We’ve been inundated with ads of candidates vying for the most powerful position in the land. On the Democratic side, we have Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. For the Republicans, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz lead the way. Regardless of your individual political leanings, we cannot allow our parents or our teachers to make decisions for us any longer. Until the age of 18, our lives are chock full of people telling us what to do and what to think. Exercising our political power is one of the first steps that we, as youth, can take to break away from childhood. We owe it to ourselves to take our future into our own hands and vote in a way that will make our country one that we are proud to live in. As citizens transitioning into adulthood, we need to make it clear that we care about real issues and less about who can “Dab”.

So how can we make our voices heard? First, we need to register to vote. Stay tuned for information about the next #FarRocktheVote event. RYTF routinely hosts events to register members of our community to vote and provides additional information surrounding the voting process. Second, become an informed citizen. Regardless of how you get your news, be it through newspapers, magazines, social media, or blogs, use your preferred medium to brush up on political happenings. Find out about issues that impact you and your community. Learn more about a candidate’s position on hot button issues and support them accordingly. Thirdly, spread the word. It may not seem like an individual vote matters, but your voice deserves to be heard and counted. As shown in 2012, youth voters had a huge impact determining the presidential election. It is our responsibility to encourage other young black and brown youths to exercise their right to vote. The future of our nation could depend on it.