The University of Maine student newspaper since 1875
Wednesday, Dec. 17, 10:39 a.m.

Voter turnout by ‘Generation y’ feeble with so much on the line

Young people don’t vote, and this is a terrible problem. In 2008, 46 percent of voters aged 18 to 29 went to the polls. That 46 percent was considered to be extremely high. Contrast that number with the 36 percent of young citizens who voted in the 2000 election. While voting exists as the one true way to present our views, less than half of those under 30 take part. But it is we — those of “Generation Y” — who stand to gain or lose the most from the happenings of this country. It is we who have the most at stake in the aftershock of an election. While the rest of society is by no means obsolete or unaffected, they are by far more likely to weather the changing economic and social policies that may come.

Voting is a right U.S. citizens are entitled to after reaching 18 years of age. Yet, for some reason, those with shiny, new abilities seem to ignore them. By contrast, according to the Census Bureau, nearly two-thirds of men and women aged 65 and older vote. While I mean no disrespect to the older generation, I am able to recognize that the vote of today will weigh much more heavily upon the upcoming workforce, i.e., those between the ages of 18 and 29. Politicians realize that they must appeal to the largest voting demographic — the older population — to win support. This creates a never-ending cycle. Support for students and young adults becomes minimal, and politicians aim to please only those who are certain to vote. Thus, we end up with policies in place that benefit the elderly, while placing a burden on the younger generations.

The only solution to this massive issue is to go out and vote. Apathy has plagued college students, especially in regard to voting. We expect to be forgotten; we expect no change; thus, we do not bother to vote. But it is the college student, specifically, who needs to free up time to head to the polls. If even that is not doable, a majority of states offer absentee and early voting procedures, including Maine.

While it is not entirely simple to vote, it is not nearly difficult enough to prevent you from making your voice matter. If our intent, as the upcoming workforce of America, is to handicap ourselves against success, then our current path is a valiant one. However, I doubt this is the case. With the economy struggling and job opportunities fleeting, it is in your best interest to vote until you become the American voice.