The critical youth vote and the importance of youth voting

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Andrew and Alex Heavin, natives of Rochester, Mich. turned 22 just three weeks ago. They have been through this rodeo of presidential voting once before, and with their loyalty connected to the Republican Party, they cast a vote each for Mitt Romney.

Now they, like numerous others, feel that this election feel they are choosing the “lesser of two evils.” In their opinion, that is Donald Trump, the businessman turned politician whose ranting about a top-down economic plan and strict immigration have captivated many, but left a many other fearful of what he could do when in power.

But for the Heavin twins, a part of them wishes for the sake of all their friends who didn’t have a chance to vote last election that their first would have been more, for a lack of a better word, normal.

“This election, it kinda sucks for a lot of reasons,” Andrew Heavin said. “For one, it’s hard for us to stay loyal to Trump, but at the same time (Democratic nominee Hillary) Clinton has hard a hard time convincing me. I wish that the people I know who are voting in their first election had two candidates who lay out their policies and give voters a better understanding, you know, rather than just bicker at each other in debates.”

Alex echoed similar sentiments, but also touched on the very important issue of youth voting and how important it is for voters in college or recently graduated to stop at the polls on November 8. According to CIRCLE, a non-profit organization that tracks youth voting in the U.S., 21 percent of the population eligible to vote is the youth, ages 18-29.

“A lot of my friends or cousins or whatever say they are either voting third-party or not at all because they don’t like either person,” Alex said. “I try to tell them to still vote because it matters who runs the country. Pick the one you think is less bad and just fill in the bubble. It honestly upsets me a little.”

Below is a graph of Michigan’s voter turnout in comparison to other states in the Midwest, according to data from CIRCLE. Though Michigan’s 16 electoral votes fall short of Illinois’s 20 and Ohio’s 18, they have more than the Midwest states of Indiana, Iowa, and Minnesota.

This graph portrays the percentage of voters ages 18-29 who voted in the 2012 Presidential election

Nathaniel Bott

This graph portrays the percentage of voters ages 18-29 who voted in the 2012 Presidential election

Marie Wicks, city clerk of East Lansing, also touched on the importance of youth voting. Being in East Lansing, the student population is massive and gives Wicks the opportunity to stress the importance of the youth vote to students, though she has a number of challenges to overcome when it applies to getting out there and convincing students to vote.

She has a three-prong system to get students educated and out there at the polls on election day.

“The first step is getting students registered, Wicks said. The deadline is October 11, which is a pretty short window. The second part is educating students about, or giving them the opportunity to be educated about, the issues of the candidates, and that’s what MSU vote is going to be trying to do. The third part of our three-pronged strategy is get out and vote. That’s gonna be the big thing.

Wicks says she goes on campus and registers all the student-athletes to vote as well as members of the ROTC. She works with numerous on campus, student-run organizations as well as ASMSU to help increase awareness of youth voting and get more students registered.

Wicks is a vital member of the voting community, as she deals with absentee ballot requests, informs young voters where to go to vote and helps the youth voters understand more about the process of registration.

Students like the Heavin twins encourage their friends and classmates to participate in the election as well. When it comes down to it, those who don’t know or don’t want to are more likely to be convinced by someone they know.

“I see people everyday outside of Brody or East neighborhood or Yakely or wherever that are asked if they are registered and they just don’t sign up or ignore it completely,” Alex said. “If more youth voted, I feel it would be easier to convince others if their friend did it rather than just a person with a clipboard trying to.”