By Kelsey Bolger, KSEC, Transylvania University
Today I had to choose between going to vote or $20 and to be honest, I hesitated.
Technically speaking my choice was actually between a mandatory event at my campus or going to vote, as both fall into my only 2 hour span of free time, but only one is going to charge me for lack of attendance.
I can practically feel your judgement leaking through the computer screen, so before you think too poorly of me rest assured that my desire for representation outweighed my desire for extra grocery money.
My point is, as a college student I have faced similar scheduling dilemmas every year it has been my privilege to vote, it seems between classes, extracurriculars, jobs, and other obligations I am having to make a choice between what to cut to even have the chance to rush back to my hometown and make it to the polls. At times I feels like the world doesn't even want me to vote.
And I wouldn't be wrong.
Myself- and most of you who are reading this- probably fall into the "millennial generation", also known as the "Me, Me, Me generation", the "selfie (or selfish) generation", the "ruiners of our country as we know it" etc. and the world hates us for it.
(^I think I drink just the right amount of wine, thank you very much.)
If you do a quick google search of "millennial" I'm going to let you know right now, the results aren't pretty. According to the majority of the population we are believed to be selfish, uninformed, apathetic- we are one of the most underlooked and underappreciated voting demographics out there.
Not only that, but our stats aren't looking so hot when it comes to the polls. According to projectvote.org 18-29 year olds make up 21% of the eligible voting population, but only aproximately half end up actually turning up to vote.
21 million citizens under 30 didn't show up to vote in 2008, and if you're a young person who doesn't attend college the chances of you voting are slim to none- yet when asked why they didn't vote hardly any reported apathy as their main concern. Many cited various reasons such as confusion or errors with figuring out where to vote as to why they hadn't in previous years. Yet we as young people can, and have, made a difference as a voting demographic. Analysis after the 2012 presidential election showed that youth voters made a decisive difference in 4 states- allowing Obama to successfully claim these states and snag the election.
We are looked down on for our apathy, yet evidence shows that our generation is one of the most politically aware of all time. Resources that weren't available to previous generations, such as online news and social media, allows us to quickly spread and share ideas and beliefs. We care, we try to stay informed, and we can organize political movements arguing for sweeping changes through a singular hashtag on twitter and have it catch fire across the world- and that scares people.
It can be easy to feel intimidated and unimportant when election season rolls around, especially when the overwhelming message from the media is that, as a young person, you do not matter- but the reality is we have, and can continue to, make a difference in our elections.
These upcoming elections represent an important chance for young people in Kentucky to have our voices heard. Currently our state offers very little opportunity for us to stay here after we graduate, the unemployment rate for young people in Kentucky is considerably higher than the national average- meaning that once we graduate we are effectively forced into leaving our home state in order to seek out better chances of employment.
Not only that, but our current representation does not adequately represent and endorse issues that Kentucky youths care about- such as addressing climate change, student loan policies, and the possibility of creating green jobs that would help us stay in-state. We can change all that, but only if we vote. Voting is the biggest step we can make towards achieving the changes we want for our country, our state, and our lives as citizens.
We know we care, we know we're informed, we know we can make a difference- and now it's time to show the world.
The Young Kentuckian is a blog of the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition where youth share their work and ideas for Kentucky's bright future.
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