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Young people have plenty of reasons to vote

Cassady Cundari, Editor-in-Chief

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“Don’t complain. Vote.”

Civic duty rhetoric such as this, as well as advertisements for voter registration, have been floating around social media for months, making participation in government appear all the more crucial in the coming Nov. 6 election, especially considering the growing national dissatisfaction with Capitol Hill.

“Who is in office sets the policy for all of us, young and old. So voting is a way to shape your future,” said Mr. Dennis Grosskopf, social studies.

The generation of people ages 18 to 24 has a large enough population to turn the tide of an entire American election, but less than 50 percent of the young adult electorate voted in the 2016 presidential election, according to the Brookings Institute website. As of October, President Donald Trump’s approval rating reached its highest point yet at 47 percent with a disapproval rating of 49 percent as stated by an NBC News poll; congressional approval remains at less than 20 percent.

“If the younger generations do not vote, they are stunting the progressivism and evolution of the American nation as a whole,” said Nora Hasan, senior. “Essentially, by not voting, the younger generations are refusing their obligation to provide their opinions and allow it to feed into the growth necessary for national political, economic, and social improvements.”

A poll by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics found that only 25 percent of people ages 18 to 29 approve Trump’s presidential performance thus far. In the coming midterm election, there exists an exponential increase in voter sentiment as young people grow all the more discontent with the present administration’s neglect to address issues that affect their generation directly, like student debt and climate change. This is because until a greater number of Millennial electorates show up to the polls, the Baby Boomer generation will still have the greatest impact on an election, and candidates correspondingly will base their campaign and political decisions around those who actually go out and vote.

For example, Congress regulates bankruptcy law, and there presently exists a provision that if you file for bankruptcy, you cannot discharge student loan debt. This means if a student racks up $20,000 of credit card debt and $20,000 of student loan debt and then files for bankruptcy, he can eliminate $20,000 of credit card debt, but not one penny of the student loan debt. If he still has the $20,000 student loan debt at age 65, part of his social security check will be taken until the student loan debt is paid off.

Congress creates this legislation to benefit those who support their positions in office, which currently means people who are 65 years and older. Eighteen to 29 year olds, however, vote the least and therefore receive the least representation in government.

“If 90 percent of 18-29 year olds show up and vote, they will be listened to, especially with the issue of student loan debt,” said Grosskopf. “But because 18-29 year olds show up the least, you have a policy that hurts young people (no discharging student loan debt in bankruptcy) because they don’t show up to vote.”

On the other hand, legislation favors social security and medicare programs on behalf of people 65 and older who hit the polls every single election day.

“With the current state of both Illinois and the U.S. as a whole, it seems more important than ever for us to vote so that we can elect people who can hopefully start to get us out of this mess,” said Josh Beck, senior who is registered to vote in the midterm election. “It’s clear that a lot of our current policies are outdated, and I think it’s especially crucial for the younger generations to look to the future and try to get policies enacted that will benefit us down the line.”

Other students are a little more hesitant to vote.

“I’m not registered to vote because I don’t like anyone who is running and I haven’t gotten the time to gain knowledge on what (the candidates) are planning to do while in office,” said Connor Hawkinson, senior.

Conversely, some students on the verge of turning 18 would like to exercise their right to vote, but they aren’t sure whether it matters as much as advocates make it seem. Even though the electoral college is only in effect during presidential elections, it still raises some skepticism for new voters.

“Some votes don’t make a difference because the Electoral College is terrible,” said Grace McClimon, senior. “I think that we need to have a voting system where every vote has the same value. But regardless of that your vote means in terms of who gets elected, your vote still gives feedback to the nation about what the people’s needs and interests are.”

Election day is less than a week away, and whether young people hit the polls can decide the fate of an entire nation.

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Young people have plenty of reasons to vote