On Encouraging that Pesky Youth Vote

‘Tis the season of elections, and of handwringing over those damn kids these days who are too apathetic or whatever to get out and vote.  Rather than rail about the horrors of Kids These Days (TM) I have a few suggestions about things that would make me more excited to vote.

  • Stop telling me my vote count and work to make it actually count.  You can tell me it counts as much as you want, but between gerrymandering, a winner-take-all electoral system, and only two viable parties, the reality is that it quite often doesn’t.  Maybe address these things rather than lecture me about how voting is the most important thing I can do?
  • In the meantime, what can I do instead that is politically meaningful?  I am seriously asking.
  • Abolish age of candidacy requirements.  There is no particular reason that I can only vote and not be voted for.  I am at least as qualified as Trump to be president, maturity wise, but I am prohibited from running for president because of supposed immaturity. As this article discusses, candidacy age requirements do turn the much coveted youth voters into second class citizens.

Featured Image Credit: Justgrimes via flickr

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Elizabeth is a professional belly dancer, a flaky computer scientist, and a returned Peace Corps volunteer. She lives in Georgia (the state of the U.S., not the country) but is nonetheless somehow not a combination of stereotypes from Gone with the Wind and Deliverance. Her personal blog is Coffeefied. Operafied. Fluffified. Beglittered.


  1. July 25, 2016 at 12:34 pm —

    Item 2 – volunteer for a campaign or candidate that you support.  You will help enormously with getting that candidate or issue to have traction and viability*.  By becoming known in your local community, you will gain influence among other local political activists, who will take you and your ideas more seriously.

    What did you mean by “instead of”?  Are you too young to vote, or not a citizen?  Or are you working 12 hours a day at some minimum wage job that won’t let you take time off to vote?   Or do you live in some anti-democratic state with fascist vote-suppression laws?  Each of these is a good issue to become an activist about.  (My local volunteer organizer for Obama ’12 couldn’t vote because she was about $1500 in lawyer’s fees away from citizenship.  I’m sure my grandparents didn’t have to pay an inflation-adjusted $1500 dollars each to become citizens in about 1930, and I’m sure they didn’t need a lawyer.)

    [*]  I am personally responsible for getting Obama 2 extra votes in New Hampshire, a swing state, in 2012.  One woman whose door I knocked on said her husband was due home from work in 10 minutes, and they were planning to get a bit to eat and then go to the polls.  When I informed her the polls closed in less than half an hour, she changed plans to vote immediately after he got home.  If Obama had won NH by one vote, I was planning to claim my ambassadorship to Fiji, but unfortunately the margin was several thousand.  Still, you never know 🙂




  2. July 25, 2016 at 12:50 pm —

    By instead of I mean I live in Georgia.  It may stop being a staunchly red state in my lifetime, but I’m not holding my breath.

  3. July 26, 2016 at 1:18 pm —

    Regarding point 1:  Your vote does count.  But if you feel it doesn’t, don’t rely on others to work to make that change for you, do it yourself.  Yes, gerrymandering is a problem – vote for candidates that will change it.  Yes, the winner-take-all electoral system is a problem – vote for candidates that will change it.  Yes, having only 2 viable parties is a problem – vote for 3rd party candidates, and encourage others to do so as well.  It’s not up to everyone else to address these things for you, it’s up to you to be part of the solution instead of waiting around for the system to get better on its own.  Do your part and make your vote count.  So yes, voting is the most important thing you can do, as you have to start somewhere; and voting is just the easiest, first step… which brings us to point 2…


    Regarding point 2:  There is no “in the meantime” (see point 1).  Beyond voting, what you can do that is politically meaningful is volunteer.  Being too young to run for office yourself, this would be the perfect time to get involved in the campaigns of candidates you admire / support, 3rd party or otherwise.  Learn from them, see how the process works.  The best way to affect change is to know how the system works to begin with, then you’ll see the parts that need fixing and get better ideas on how to possibly implement those changes.  Start small, work with local campaigns instead of federal campaigns. If you’re serious about running for office yourself, note that most states in the U.S. also have age requirements for the offices of Governor, State Senator, and State Representative; however, the minimum age requirement to hold elected office at these levels is usually as low as 21 or 18.  You stated that you live in Georgia.  Well, the minimum age specifically for the Georgia House of Representatives is 21.  Go get elected!


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