On the news you might see depictions of the “lazy millennial voter.” The one who would rather sit in their parent’s basement than go to the polls, or the one who would rather post on Instagram than care about the election. However, I’m here to set the record straight. We’re not lazy. We’re suppressed. And we’re not apathetic. We’re frustrated.
When the election system is rigged against younger people, I can imagine this feeling is widespread. Oppression of any kind can have a chilling effect on action. Until we change the system, young people will continue not to vote.
Only around 46 percent of people between the ages of 18-35 vote, according to NPR. To put that in comparison, Baby Boomers, and are turning out at 71 percent.
However, there are a few ways we can change how we vote to end young voter suppression. The first is abolishing the Electoral College.
People are much more likely to vote if they feel that they’re represented, and that they feel their vote matters just as much as the person in the state next to them.
For instance, each voter in Wyoming, due to its small population and required two senators, has 3.6 times the amount of voting power compared to a voter in California, according to the Huffington Post. Abolishing the institution will likely help voters feel their vote matters.
Another aspect that needs to be changed is gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is a huge issue on its own and will take more than one piece of legislation to end it.
Something a little smaller, however, might still have a big impact on young voter turnout: changing the day of voting. In most states, the voting day is Tuesday, and if you’re a young voter, good luck getting it off.
For millennials, low wages mean that we can’t afford to take a day off, and decreasing benefits means sick days are few. I don’t want to get to the polls at 6 a.m. to vote, and I really don’t want to wait in line for an hour with only three other polling places in my area.
Changing the day to perhaps a Saturday or Sunday might help, but the best solution would be to make a national holiday for voting. This way everyone is pretty much guaranteed to have the day off from work.
Young voter suppression is a serious problem, and it’s not talked about enough. Institutions like the Electoral College and small things like the day of voting seriously affect young voter turnout.
Educate your peers and advocate for change of the election system. Bring it up in conversation with your friends. The only way we’re going to make change happen is to vote.