We are living history. The youth generation of today has witnessed some of the nation’s most momentous events, all of which will undoubtedly be discussed in history classes for years to come. However, not only have we witnessed many, we have participated in and caused for one in particular. In 2008, young voters turned out in record-breaking numbers to the polls to elect President Barack Obama, giving him the win with the largest youth vote for a single candidate ever in history. This election was also the third highest in voter turnout among young people since the voting age was lowered to 18.

In 2008, 51% of voters between 18-29 years old came out to vote—a jump of 11 points since 2000 when 40% voted—constituting the largest spike of any age group. Total turnout of the voting-age population has consistently been on the rise in presidential elections since 1996, when national turnout was 49.1% while in 2008 it was 56.8%. However, while presidential election turnout has been climbing upwards, midterm election turnout has consistently been around 37% since 1978.

Lowered news coverage and overall less “hype” surrounding midterm elections in comparison to presidential races can partially be faulted for minimal turnout during off-years; however, ultimately voters’ mindsets are the heart of the problem. Congressional elections arguably have as much influence over the government’s actions and the overall political scene for the nation as presidential ones. The president’s desires and platform largely, if not entirely, depend on the rulings of Congress to be progressed or denied–making every person’s vote and opinion valuable whether they support the president of the time or not.

This November, the 2010 off-year election ballots will be cast to determine who will sit in 37 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate for many years to come. With such momentous feats amid our freshly blazed trail, we as youth cannot let up now. As the 2010 elections quickly approach, we must keep in mind that our votes are needed as much as ever and that youth hold immense power in politics. Remember, regardless which candidate your vote is cast for, every vote counts in contributing to the workings of democracy upon which our nation was founded. While we as youth are hailed for breaking records in 2008, we can continue to break records with the Senatorial elections of 2010.

Sources:
http://www.civicyouth.org/?page_id=241#3
http://elections.gmu.edu/Turnout_2008G.html
http://www.civicyouth.org/PopUps/FactSheets/FS_youth_Voting_2008_updated_6.22.pdf

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