In the 2012 presidential election, 18 to 29 year-olds voted only slightly better at 45 percent.
Historically, all age demographics have voted at a higher rate than the 18 to 34-age range. Perhaps they understand the political process more. Perhaps they have time to register and vote. Perhaps they’ve lived long enough to know how politics affects their lives.
I view politics like any other menial chore one has to learn while living alone after leaving the safety of a childhood home. Twenty-somethings don’t like to take out the trash, or do the dishes (because college houses don’t have dishwashers) or mop or vacuum. But we do it, because if no one else does, the house is a big old mess and it’s no one’s fault but our own.
Voting is a chore like cleaning your house, but the consequences of not doing so are far worse than not vacuuming. Not voting is like missing the first “roommate meeting” of the year, where you decide how to divvy up chores. You didn’t attend, so someone else gets to make all the rules of the house. And they decided to make you clean everyone else’s mess, in addition to your own. And if you don’t do it, you have to find a new place to live.
WHY YOUR VOTE COUNTS
It sounds like a silly analogy, but voting does have that big of an impact on your life. Many people whine that “my vote doesn’t count,” but in my own experience, they forget that the presidential election is the least important election for an average American citizen. They also forget that elections happen every two years, not four, and that there is a state house and senate in addition to the national legislature. Yes, there are two of those. (Actually, there are 51. More if you count territories like Puerto Rico.)
And the state legislature affects your day-to-day more than you realize. I’ll give you one example.
Kurt Schaefer is a Republican member of the Missouri State Senate (not the federal) and he was first elected in 2008. He is the representative from the 19th District of Missouri, which completely encompasses the city of Columbia. He was up for re-election in 2012, and won.
In 2008, he was voted in by a little over 2,000 votes. When someone wins the first time, they’re more likely to win the second, because of name recognition. In his 2012 incumbent election he won by about 13,000 votes, despite democrats showing up to the local polls at much higher rates, and it being a presidential election year.
Kurt Schaefer was politically moderate when he won in 2012, but took a turn for the far right. College students at the University of Missouri might know him best as the Chairman of the Senate Interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life. This committee was created in response to a video that supposedly showed staff at Planned Parenthood selling aborted fetal tissue. The committee placed pressure on the university to keep clinical privileges for the Planned Parenthood doctor in Columbia that performed abortions, and eventually succeeded.
In November, he attempted to stop a graduate student from researching the 72-hour-wait law for abortions, citing a state law that makes it illegal to use public funds to perform abortions.
He said that, “the study does not appear to be designed as an objective, unbiased research project, but rather as a marketing aid for Planned Parenthood — one that is funded, in part or in whole, by taxpayer dollars.”
I choose Kurt Schaefer as an example because a) he was elected in Boone County, twice b) he is very polarizing and c) he had two very distinct, very direct effects on the university where we all go to school.
Kurt Schaefer’s term as senator ends in 2017, but he is a candidate for the 2016 election Missouri Attorney General as the chief legal advisor and law enforcement officer for the state.
HOW TO VOTE IN MISSOURI
The requirements to vote in Missouri are few: A person must be a United States Citizen, 18 years old by election day and a Missouri resident to vote in the general presidential election. Missouri requires only one form of identification. In addition to a Missouri driver’s license, a person can bring a current ID issued by a Missouri college, university or vocational school, or a current utility bill that has the name and address of the voter. Considering a lot of recent changes to voter ID laws that is incredibly simple. If you think you’re registered, or you know you are and want to find your polling booth, put your information in here.