Many times we see young voters neglect the importance of voting, but their voice is an important one on both sides of the aisle. Key issues in every election increasingly relate to the concerns of students and professionals between the ages of 18 and 29, making it essential for members within that age group to educate themselves on political issues and take to the polls.

Did you know millennials represented nearly 50% of the entire voter population in the 2016 election, they were further divided along race, gender, and education lines when considering key issues from both candidates.

If you have been questioning why it is important to vote, especially if you fall within a crucial age demographic, here are compelling reasons why we need you:

• The youth vote has the potential to be extremely influential in this country. While young voter participation in 2016declined by 2% from a record 52% at the 2008 election, today the voting population includes almost equal parts millennials and baby boomers. As the boomer electorate decreases in size, experts suggest it is merely a matter of time before millennials become the largest and most powerful group driving future elections in the U.S. Unfortunately, not all who can vote will, meaning that fewer young people get to directly influence issues that might affect their lives for years to come, including college tuition reform and federal job programs.

• Many young people cite feeling as though their vote doesn’t count as their reason for not participating in elections. Millennials reported feeling especially disillusioned by both presidential candidates before the election in 2016, and many chose to sit out altogether as a result. In an America divided perhaps more than ever, every vote counts, especially those from one of the country’s largest voting groups.

• College debt and a lack of jobs have become one of the largest blows to the financial futures of many young voters after the Great Recession in the late-2000s. Though unemployment rates have declined and millennials have found their footing in a new economy, policy change and reform in areas affecting college students, such as debt forgiveness and healthcare, are as crucial now as they were in the 2008 election.

• Youth voters who want to inspire change need to show their support for the candidates whom they feel best represent their needs. No one else is going to vote in the interest of young people except young people.

• In today’s tech-savvy world, there is no excuse not to vote because you don’t know enough about the candidates.. In an era in which Twitter is preferred means of communication for the President of the United States, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat have become as crucial as the candidates’ own websites for disseminating information about relevant issues.

• The divisive nature of partisan politics is alive and well among young voters in today’s world. So much so that the millennial electorate is expected to be the first demographic group with the ability to challenge the basic two-party system, potentially driving the need for alternative political parties whom millennials feel can represent the needs of a diverse population through a more inclusive agenda.

The list of reasons to vote is much, much longer than what I could possibly write here. There are marginalized communities that are threatened: women, the LGBTQ community, the African-American community, Muslims, Jews and more. Don’t forget about climate change, immigration and the Dreamers Act, health care and the economy. Several major issues will take wildly different courses depending on which party controls Congress—this is no longer a time to be complacent. People must vote!

David Brown
Mulberry Seed Design