The Huffington Post just recently published an article on the shocking contrast between 2008 and 2012’s young vote. According to their article, only 50 percent of voters ages 18-29 are registered to vote. This is a full 11 percent lower than the 2008 elections. My question: Why?
I tried asking this question via Facebook status in hopes of getting some varied responses. My status read:
Question: Are you voting? If not, why not?
Also, please don’t mention who you prefer. I don’t care.
Needless to say, I received several ‘like’-button clicks and few decent answers. One responded with a reasonable, “I’m not voting because if you register to vote, you automatically have been signed up for jury duty for the rest of time.” Fair enough, but that still doesn’t explain why eleven percent of us youngsters aren’t registered. But I know why I’m not and my close friends tend to have the same reasoning.
Here are a few reasons why:
1) The Absentee Ballot
Because I am living out of my state (country), I’d have to register for an absentee ballot. This honestly isn’t too much of an inconvenience, but I’m not as willing to do it this time around. In 2008 I was living in Alabama and being a resident of Tennessee, I happily registered for an absentee ballot. This time I can’t be bothered. The Edinburgh University North American Society is holding sessions in the library every Wednesday until October 17th for voter registration. They are even willing to mail it off for you. But this incentive still won’t have me filling out a registration form. Which leads me to my next reason…
2) The Electoral College
MTV’s “Rock the Vote” campaign has everyone my age thinking your vote is your voice. Well, maybe if you are a resident of a swing state does your vote have potential power. I was reminded by a McCain supporter after voting in the 2008 election that my vote simply “doesn’t count anyway”. She was absolutely right. Vote Republican in New York. Vote Democrat in Alabama. You’re vote will get overturned by the majority. The voting system is flawed, but simply will never change.
3) Certainty Obama Won’t Lose
I don’t want to start a political Romney-is-the-greatest-for-our-economy-and-Obama-can-lose conversation, but the odds are in Obama’s favor. I think most are overly confident he will be 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the next four years. This overconfidence in the outcome could be an explanation for the 11 percent decrease. We are just so sure Obama will win, what would one more vote matter? Which in turn leads to my final reason…
This is the main reason I am not voting. I think others my age feel (or don’t feel) the same way. The 2008 election was historical. A black man running for president, a white woman running for vice president. Either way you voted we felt as if we were making history. We were contributing to something bigger than ourselves. Well, that was fun. Now what? The hype is over and we aren’t as disillusioned as before. I graduate soon and know this degree won’t matter much. Currently, I can’t even get a part-time cafe job due to lack of experience. How the hell am I suppose to find a waitressing job after I graduate? I can read books, but I can’t make a cappuccino. But besides the increasing unemployment rate and student loan debt, …wait…is Obama on Instagram? Why the hell is Obama on Instagram? I am sick of the president-as-celebrity. E-mails, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Late Night T.V., Day Time T.V., etc. It’s too much. This overload on social media has led me to become extremely apathetic. But then again, I am only this apathetic because of my overconfidence.
Okay, so now for a lovely quote by David Foster Wallace regarding those of us who don’t vote:
“If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don’t bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don’t bullshit yourself that you’re not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.”
-David Foster Wallace, Up, Simba!
Side note: Ellen Degeneres for 2016?