The millennial generation is getting older. We are
blossoming into young adults, heading off to college and/or the workforce and
realizing the complications that come with this transition. Many of us are
beginning to gain a general knowledge of our society. First-time voters in this
year’s election—US citizens born between 1990 and 1994—are one of the main focal
points of this year’s campaign. Young, naïve and reckless with our opinions, we have shown that not only does our vote count; it may
even decide this election.
Young people aged 18-24 are generally enrolled in colleges
across the country, some in states far from their home district and many
racking up massive
student debts. While they’re entitled to register to vote in the state in
which they currently reside, they can also choose to vote via absentee ballot
in their home state. This suggests that, if they wish to be informed voters,
these individuals would need to stay current with politics in their home
districts. Some states prove advantageous while making this decision.
“I’m registered back home, but that’s only because they have
closed primaries and I wanted to vote in the Democratic Primary,” Graves Lee, a
Tulane University sophomore originally from Kentucky, says, “…but I definitely
tend to stay more knowledgeable on New Orleans politics moreso than I would in
Lee says that the actions of New Orleans and Louisiana
politicians have more influence over his current situation than politicians in
his home state since he only visits home for a few weeks at a time. “[They]
just don’t have an impact on me.”
In the US, there are an estimated 46 million 18- to 29-year-old
eligible voters, which made up 24 percent of the electorate in 2011 and, in
2015, will make up one-third of the electorate.
Of that 46 million, an estimated 78 percent plan to
vote in the 2012 election—even though only 38 percent believe that their
concerns are being accurately represented from the national candidates. Foreign
affairs and the current financial crisis have been at the forefront of the
recent debates, leaving the worries of the millennial generation unheard.
Trent Brown, an 18-year-old freshman at Santa Fe University
of Art and Design, is registered in New Mexico and has not decided whether or
not he will vote in this year’s election.
“As far as New Mexico politics goes, I don’t know that much,”
he says, “but I have been watching the presidential and vice presidential
debates and keeping up with the news lately.”
The issue of whether or not the presidential candidates
represent the voting youth plays a major role in not only who the majority will
decide on a national level, but how informed they choose to be as well. If
neither candidate deals with the 9.3 percent unemployment rate for college
grads aged 20-24 (12.9
percent overall for the same age range), then it is unlikely that they’ll
be able to capture the full extent of the youth vote.
It is clear that the youthful backing that pushed Obama
towards victory in 2008 will be put into question this time around. In a recent
poll, 89 percent of young voters said they believed that the economy has impacted
them in one way or another. Just recently, Republican Vice Presidential
Candidate Paul Ryan has been
pushing to appeal to the young working class, while others still
argue that they are “…pushing the same policies that led to the economic crisis
in the first place.”
While it is safe to say that the millennial generation has a definite impact on this election and many elections to come, the educated vote itself will always be left up to the individual. Many college students are in atmospheres conducive to following at least the most basic political decisions, but there are always some who choose not to get involved.
Nick Beckman is a journalism student at the Santa Fe University of Art & Design.