The buildup to midterm elections have finally come to an end with a historic turnout of young voters in addition to the Democrats taking the House of Representatives and Republicans keeping control of the Senate.
For the past month or so, celebrities and other big names like Taylor Swift, Zendaya and former President of the United States Barack Obama have been encouraging new voters to participate in midterms to fulfill their civic right on social media.
According to The Atlantic magazine, there were significant spikes in the United States. States, like Texas, where the amount of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 increased fivefold compared to the 2014 midterms.
Plattsburgh State political science major Rukshana Abdeen is an international student from Sri Lanka. While being unable to vote, Abdeen follows U.S. politics along with the politics of Sri Lanka out of fascination. Abdeen is registered to vote in her home country and will participate in her first election this December.
“I can’t vote in America, so the only thing I can do is talk to Americans about it,” Abdeen said. “I try to talk to as many [Americans] as I can.”
Before midterms, Abdeen asked PSUC students if they were planning to vote. Abdeen was frustrated by the lack of interest from her fellow PSUC students.
She will continue to encourage other students to be more informed about U.S. politics. Young people in Sri Lanka often attend university schools in the U.S., according to Abdeen. Young Sri Lankan students cannot vote in American elections, so they don’t see voting as important to them.
Associate Professor of Political Science Daniel Lake started voting when he was 18 years old.
“I think it’s very important for young people to vote because they are the ones who have to live with the consequences of political decisions,” Lake said. “people who don’t start [voting] right away never develop a habit and become passive bystanders in the political process.”
Lake believes the lack of youth voting erodes the quality of our democracy and the individuals within it.
According to Professor of Political Science Harvey Schantz, an individual aged between 18 and 35 is less likely to vote opposed to an individual 35 and over. The older voters are also more likely to have more extremist political values they feel passionate about, according to Lake.
“Non-voters help create an environment where it’s easy for extremists to take office,” Lake said.
My parents have always encouraged me to pay attention to U.S. politics and treat it as my civic duty. Whenever they went to their local voting sites, I was expected to go with them because I would be doing it one day.
I never fully understood the importance of young voting until the 2016 presidential election when Donald Trump was elected into office. It was frustrating because I felt powerless. I couldn’t provide input for the leader of the country. Registering to vote was the most satisfying moment of my life.
I encourage everyone to get involved with politics so they can help shape the future for themselves and their peers.