I like to think that voting is a trendy thing for young Americans. We see it as a rite of passage and a chance to impact the world. I like to think that come November 4th, some of us make it a point to show off our ‘I Voted’ sticker, like it’s the status symbol for the concerned citizen. But in reality, voting isn’t that easy when you’ve never done it before and it takes a lot of responsibility to be informed enough to make an educated voting decision.
Rock the Vote is a nonprofit that focuses on trying to engage young people in the political process. One of their main objectives: getting young people to vote. In 2008, the organization was at a new peak. The advancement of technology which promoted voting, an overall desire for reform in the White House, and an increase in the amount of celebrity candidate endorsements, all of this led to one of the highest youth voter turnouts in American history.
This year is different. After four years of promise, some young people are not seeing change. The choice of youth, which favored Barack Obama more than any other age group in the 2008 election, has the power to shift voting patterns the other way.
So how will youth vote in this year’s election?
“The largest issue shaping this year is the economy,” Chrissy Faessen, vice president of communications at Rock The Vote, told the Heartfeldt Blog.
“This year young people will be voting for whoever they think will best handle the [economic] situation.”
It’s no surprise, considering that within the next four years, many of us will be out of school, looking for a job to pay off our student loans—some of us already are in this predicament. The issue of the economy has been ever-increasing, and as documented in 2010, will shape the youth vote.
One issue that may also affect the election is voter ID laws:
“Some of these students don’t have the right ID’s to get to the polls. We are here to make sure that they’re prepared before they vote,” Faessen said.
Voter ID laws, which have been implemented in recent years, require voters to show proof of citizenship before casting the ballot. Since most states have different laws, deciding what you need to bring to the polls may be difficult.
Will 2012 be the new ‘Year of the Youth Vote’?
“This is a very different election from the last one…it has the power to be [the year of the youth vote],” Faessen said.
There may be some hurdles along the way, but the youth vote has the ability to pull through. So register to vote and make your voice heard!