Time for Washington to start taking youth vote seriously

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Don’t know, don’t care; a sentiment expressed by teens during the 2012 presidential election.

With votes tallied and President Obama beginning his second term in January, teens question whether or not their votes will even matter when they reach eligibility.

Every time an election rolls around, headlines claim that the youth voters, ages 18-29, will make or break the election.

Yet, come the first Tuesday in November, the majority of young voters fail to meet expectations.
Studies, however, show that younger voters are gradually becoming a larger part of the national electorate. Often referred to as the Millennial Generation, young voters made up 19% of this year’s voting population. The 44 million eligible young voters in 2008 made it clear that in order to win their vote, a candidate needed to make larger appeals to their generation.

The preconceived notion that younger voters do not matter is a myth. The size alone makes this age group a political force to be reckoned with as evident in the recent election.

Fueled by social media and angst, young voters took to the twittersphere to gather support for their candidates. This social media activism propelled Obama to the White House in 2008 and 2012.

Heather Smith, president of Rock the Vote (RTV), an organization that strives to engage young people in politics, assured the nation that “this voting bloc can no longer be an afterthought to any political party or campaign.”

In 2008, RTV made history when they registered over 2.25 million voters, the largest in the organization’s 20 year history. Rallying methods included a 16-state bus tour with 23 artists that promoted voter’s registration, education, and early voting.

An advantage Obama had in capturing the younger votes was his never-ending list of celebrity endorsements, including Beyonce and Jay-Z, Katy Perry, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Bringing “hope” and “change” back into his campaign; Obama promised lower interest rates on student loans and endorsed gay marriages which were big ticket items among the Millennials.

Today’s teens are the future of America and the majority of them will be eligible to vote in the next election. If politicians plan on making it to the White House they need to aim where it counts and start taking the youth votes seriously.