ANALYSIS: Welcome back. Now register to vote!

Archived Photo by Mahima Sultan

Archived Photo by Mahima Sultan

Welcome back to campus! 2020 has been interesting and chaotic, but it’s not over yet. For me — and many others — the most exciting part of 2020 is just beginning: it’s election season!

Elections come every few years. And 2020 is a big year for local, state and federal constituencies. Many elections, such as the one in Macon this past summer, have come to a close, but some are just beginning to gain traction after the midterm. Right now is when elections start to get interesting.

Historically, young people tend to turn away from political life, not entirely by choice. We are met with gatekeeping and stigma that makes the young vote almost impossible to reach. This year could be different. Young people are getting involved.

Social media has provided an outlet where we see and hear everything going on, and we make our own opinions and news. Our generation is more politically active than any generation before. In a national survey of college students, results show that “59% of college students think this election will be more important for the country than any election in their lifetime,” Business Insider reported. 

According to Politico, college students are turning out to vote in “record numbers.” In 2018, “7.5 million college students who were eligible to vote went to the polls,” which exceeds any other election in the past. 

Young people have the numbers — we just need to put in the work.

Our generation makes up “21% of the population,” far outweighing the number of Gen X or Baby Boomers who typically show up to vote. Candidates have realized this and started to roll out platforms that they believe will speak to the younger generation, like loan forgiveness and environmental action plans. 

As college students or even as young people, we have seen a generational shift. It’s not uncommon to hear individuals our age making fun of our parents and grandparents for their out-of-date ideas. Perhaps this is what leads political operatives to believe we will vote in mass droves. But it is time that we stop making fun of “boomers” for being out of touch and actually work to create a country that fits into the ideals our generation finds so common practice. 

What is most important for our generation to realize is that we have the ability to make a change. There are so many individuals between the ages of 18 and 23, that if we vote — I mean, turn out with the force that my grandma and her friends do — we could decide the election. 

“It is a true choice as to what society you want to live in,” Mercer Political Science Department Chair Chris Grant said. “Do you want to live in a country where gut instinct is more important than science? Do you want to live in a country where all citizens have an opportunity to gain a prosperous future? How do you want the world to think of our country?” 

Grant also made his point to young people clear: “Your vote counts and it makes a difference.” 

When asked about young people in the upcoming election, Macon Mayor-Elect Lester Miller cited how important the youth vote is.

“I often say we should vote like our future depends on it, because it does,” Miller said. “When young adults bring their ideas and their energy to the table and get involved in the political process, we all benefit.” 

The main thing we as young people, Gen-Z and even Mercerians need to remember going into this election is this: we can decide what our future looks like as we graduate and join the workforce, participate in the economy and even begin to raise a family. But even before that, we have to understand that this election decides our direct future. 

Voting is not partisan — it isn’t for some and not for others. It is a right given to us in our constitution. To learn and decide how we feel, and advocate for that. So, register to vote, stay informed, ask questions, and show up to vote on Nov. 3. 

Me, my grandma and all her friends expect to see you there. 

To register to vote, visit https://www.vote.org/register-to-vote.