#OurVoteCounts: Getting millennial women registered this election

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If every millennial woman voted, there would be a huge voting bloc in this election, said Katherine Mirani, news editor at Her Campus.

Through her internship with the Clinton campaign, Rachel Cichon, a second-year political science student at Michigan State University, is getting students registered to vote at the MSU Union on Oct. 3.

Caitlin Taylor

Through her internship with the Clinton campaign, Rachel Cichon, a second-year political science student at Michigan State University, is getting students registered to vote at the MSU Union on Oct. 3.

According to the Center for American Women and Politics, 64 percent of women reported voting in the 2012 election. But of those voters, only 45 percent of women age 18-24 voted, compared to 61 percent of voters age 24-44, 70 percent of voters age 45-64 and 73 percent of voters age 65-74.

“We have a lot of power as young women,” said the editor, 24, from Boston, “but we have to actually use it.”

On Sept. 27, Her Campus – a new-media brand for empowered college women based in Boston, Mass. – launched the #OurVoteCounts initiative with Rock the Vote to get young women registered.

“Our mission is all about empowering women and making sure that women make good decisions for their lives,” Mirani said. “For many of our readers and contributors, this is their first election, so we want to do anything that makes this process easier and makes them want to engage.”

Though progress is being kept confidential, the #OurVoteCounts initiative has a goal to register 100,000 women before election day with the help of not only Her Campus, but Huffington Post Women, Refinery29, South Magazine, Allure and around 50 other women’s brands. Each article on a participating site will be followed by a voter registration widget – where a reader can get the voter registration form for her state, find out how to register online and share on social media that she’s registered.

“Social media is an excellent way to rally support and spread the news,” said Rachel Cichon, a second-year political science student at Michigan State University. “On social media, women can reach out to one another and empower each other easily.”

Social media also adds an element of peer pressure, said Mirani. Seeing friends posting about getting registered on Facebook and Twitter makes other women want to become a part of it, she said.

Whether it’s through social media, voter registration initiatives or something else, Mirani believes that getting millennial women to the polls is of particular importance this election.

“There is a lot on the line for women,” Mirani said. “There are some major issues on the table like reproductive rights – whether they will be extended or scaled back – and workplace issues like equal pay and family leave.”

According to Pew Research Center, 52 percent of women said abortion rights will be important to their vote, compared with just 38 percent of men, and 83 percent of women said the economy is important to their vote. Likewise, a Her Campus pre-election survey in late September found that reproductive rights, the economy and gun control are the top three issues that are most important to college women.

Despite the hot ticket issues at stake, some young women continue to feel hesitant about getting registered. Cichon believes it may be because women feel like their voices will not be heard.

“The fact that the glass ceiling still exists and abortion is still regularly debated are certainly not encouraging,” said Cichon. “Although, I think this is inspiration for us to get out and vote.”

Cichon believes that this election is about getting women to recognize that not only will their voices actually be heard, but now is the time to share them.

On the other hand, Judy Karandjeff, President of the League of Women Voters of Michigan, believes that it isn’t the issues that are preventing young women from voting – it’s where they are registered.

“Voting for students is very complex,” Karandjeff said. “A lot of students show up at polls thinking that they can vote where they live, but it turns out that they aren’t registered there, but also can’t get an absentee ballot because they have to vote in person for the first time.”

No matter the circumstance, millennial women have the ability to change the course of this election, Mirani said, if only young women get registered.

“It’s really crunch time right now – we are less than 40 days away,” Mirani said. “People just need to get their act together and vote!”

Oct. 11 is the deadline to register. Visit the #OurVoteCounts initiative to get registered in two minutes or less.

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