by Cindy Pena
Recently, young people have been key figures in national movements that are gaining momentum and attraction from the community, public leaders and legislators. Most notably, the March for Our Lives and school walk-outs for gun control have been organized by the younger generation.
This interest in politics is mainly derived from personal and emotional connection to policies that have negatively impacted them. For example, students from Majory Stoneman Douglas High School are advocating for strict gun laws to help limit school shootings, an apparent epidemic in the United States. Central Connecticut students have advocated for affordable higher education after several budget cuts to the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system that CCSU is under.
This, of course, is progress in comparison to the many years of low public engagement by young people. However, will this public participation and interest in public policy last? Most importantly, will this momentum make it to the voting polls?
It is a well-known fact that young people do not vote. According to Civic Youth, it is estimated that 23.7 million, or 50 percent, of young voters participated in the 2016 presidential election, which was a similar rate compared to the 2012 election.
I also witnessed the lack of young voters when I went out to the voting polls in the 2016 presidential election. I recalled seeing significantly older individuals, with absolutely no one my age, except for my sister and I.
The 2016 presidential election was clearly monumental. Both candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, were highly unlikeable, which may have been why some young people did not participate. However, it was an election year that had a significant amount of public attention which, seemed to me like it would have attracted more young people to actually go out and vote.
So why are the young people not voting? Some say it’s because millennials do not care about politics. Although, it is apparent that these young individuals rallying and organizing the March for Our Lives and other movements, in fact, do care.
Is it because millennials are uninformed? Possibly, although, in the Internet age we have access to everything at our fingertips.
Although I am not completely certain why, as it is a multi-faceted issue, I still encourage young people, especially CCSU students, to go vote. Election day for the Connecticut gubernatorial race is approaching; therefore, take the time to study the candidates and vote for the next leader of our state.
I have seen many students exercising their first amendment right to free speech on campus. CCSU has been an open community for students to express their concerns, whether it be through rallies or going to the capital and talking to legislators. This public participation is important, of course. Now is the time to take that momentum to the voting polls.