Youth and voting

Second round of the French presidential electi...

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I wasn’t old enough to vote in the 2000 presidential election. As a junior in high school, I was just shy of the required age of 18. It was upsetting. I understood how important the election was, how Bush had skewed the image of Gore irreparably. I stayed up all night to hear the results of the election and cried in the wee hours of the morning when Bush was announced the winner.

I cried again two years later when I went to vote in Illinois‘ gubernational primaries, after being told I was not going to be permitted to vote. I don’t recall the reason, simply that I was devastated at being denied yet again the right to vote.

This morning, I realized I had no idea where my voter registration card was. I waited til the day of an important vote to check my voter status…and saw that I was listed “inactive”. I hadn’t voted in an election since the 2008 presidential race.

What happened to the tears?

At 17, I was more politically engaged than I am at 27.

I could blame political burnout, political apathy, the feeling of futility. But the root is much simpler than that.

I’m more connected at 27 to my country, than to my state.

I’ve lived in 3 states since I turned 18. I voted in Illinois because I was raised there. I didn’t vote in Texas and the only time I’ve voted in Arizona so far was for a national race.

Young Americans are more mobile and less attached then we’ve ever been in history. We switch careers jobs more often and live in a location for less time then our parents. I didn’t vote in Texas because I knew I’d be moving again in two years. Only recently did I consider voting in Arizona because I figure I’ll be here for longer than I originally expected.

I am more likely to see the direct benefits and costs of a state law than a national one. It’s time I remembered being 17 again.

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Comments

  1. Just got done voting this morning. It’s easy in AZ because you can register to vote when you register to get your drivers license, and you don’t need to bring your voter registration card, just any AZ drivers license issued after 1996.

    I moved from Texas as well almost 5 years ago (I’m 30 now). As I recall I didn’t have difficulty voting there either, though you could not register to vote at the same time you got your drivers license.

    I say if voting seems like a hassle: Don’t do it. Just leave it up to me to make your governmental decisions 🙂

    • I agree, and I’ve been letting others make my local governmental decisions for far too long. It isn’t so much a difficulty, with the exception of that one IL incident, it’s more of that I haven’t felt connected to a state. Arizona is forcing my hand in a way by making all these laws that seem outrageous to me. Nothing like being angry to get one motivated!