The Daily Gamecock

Column: If you want real change in this country, vote

A poll worker gets "I Voted" stickers ready to hand to voters as they finished up at the ballot booths at Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library in South Tampa, Fla., on November 6, 2012. (Carolina Hidalgo/Tampa Bay Times/TNS)
A poll worker gets "I Voted" stickers ready to hand to voters as they finished up at the ballot booths at Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library in South Tampa, Fla., on November 6, 2012. (Carolina Hidalgo/Tampa Bay Times/TNS)

If you skip voting, you are throwing away a chance of making change happen. Now, this is far from the first headline or article trying to get you and everyone else in this country to vote. You can see it anywhere from YouTube to Instagram — everyone is trying to get everyone to vote. It might seem repetitive or tiring to see, but there is a reason for it.

Our generation has the potential to swing elections. Putting aside the eventual Armageddon that is this year’s election, which is a little more than a month away now, the turnout of Americans under the age of 25 has always historically been low. An article by using data from the United States Census Bureau found that, in the 2016 election, only 39.4% of eligible voters in the 18 to 24 age group actually cast a ballot. In more data directly from the Census Bureau website, it gets worse; in the 2018 midterm election, only 30.1% voted. 

I find this, frankly, pathetic. Every single other age group surpasses us in voter turnout, and there is no acceptable reason for it. The Pew Research Center reported that in 2018, Gen Z, millennials and Gen X not only overtook baby boomers and older generations as the largest electorate, but also outvoted all older generations in the midterms, which saw the Democrats retake the House. Admittedly, it was in conjunction with Gen X, but the point still stands. The youth vote can make a difference.

However, people in this age group tend to be the same ones that are apathetic to politics in general. An article by NPR reported that, in most cases, when young people are asked why they don't vote, the reasons generally vary from "they don't feel their vote matters, they don't care, they're busy, or they don't feel like they know enough to vote." All of those reasons are faulty to their very cores.

Not caring about voting or an election says you don't care about the country and where it goes in the future; a future you will probably be a part of. There are ways around being busy on Election Day, such as absentee and early voting. 

On the matter of not knowing enough: We live in a world where all of mankind's collected information is literally a fingertip away. Major news outlets, such as The New York Times, create easy-to-digest guides and summaries of candidates and issues. If you don't want to read, there are plenty of YouTubers or podcasts that want to explain to you the same things for the same reason that I am writing this. The resources are a Google search away. The bottom line is that it's not that hard to research before voting. 

The most common argument I see and hear from my friends and those around me is that both sides are terrible and the system is rigged against us. The same article by NPR reported that most young people don't think voting is an effective way of changing society. That information is haunting because voting is the only thing we, as citizens, have to influence society. You can march and protest all you want, but if you have no one in the government that shares those beliefs and values, any noise you make, no matter how loud it is, will fall on deaf ears.

There is no such thing as a perfect candidate, and the likelihood of having someone who does represent your beliefs to the fullest is unlikely. Most of the time, your choice will be someone that you disagree with less than the other person. Eventually, these small steps will lead to change. 

And after all of that, I am asking that same plea for November: Please do your research. Find a candidate you agree with on even one thing. It would be so easy to just sit out and not do anything. Believe me, I am tempted by it, too. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t have to choose between Trump or Biden. 

But we don’t live in a perfect world. So please, do your civic duty and vote.