Schneider: Our age group never votes, this is the year to change that

Let’s realize our civic duty and vote on Tuesday.

by Ellen Schneider

The importance of voting in the midterms has been shoved down everyone’s throats since early August. Yet I’m not sure the importance of this civic duty is fully understood. And so, here I go, adding to the masses of people telling you that you are fumbling idiot if you do not vote in these elections.

Our generation is so different and yet so similar to generations past. We have no shortage of people with opinions. People who are angry. People who demand change. But, not unlike those before us, we never back opinions up with a vote.

As much appreciation as I have for incoherent Twitter ranting and sporadic protests, the true testament to democratic citizenship is the vote. We have a direct hand in the outcome of elections; why are we not using it? Is it because voting is inconvenient or isn’t as conspicuous as an Instagram story or Facebook post? I’m not sure. But I do know that as a generation we are failing to use the potential for influence we have.

There will be a myriad of reasons not to vote: 2016 was a disappointment, the parties are too extreme or too centrist, they don’t exactly represent your beliefs or absentee ballots are time consuming. The list goes on. Voting will never be fun, and it will never be at your fingertips. But it’s still more than necessary.

I find it exasperating to hear these excuses, as they’re only more reason to go to the polls. The reason parties do not directly represent our interests is because we don’t vote. Candidates are not going to spend precious time and scarce money appealing to young voters, knowing full well it is a fruitless endeavor. If you want your interests represented – vote.

The 2016 elections were a disappointment for many people. They rocked the Democratic party to its very core. Hillary Clinton had been slated for a landslide win for months, and Donald Trump was pegged as the sordid underdog. The results were shocking and discouraging. It has happened before and will probably happen again. It’s the nature of our democracy. The electoral college is here to stay, but it is not a reason to stay at home on Tuesday.

Absentee ballots are more understandable, as voting laws vary by state. They are confusing, inconsistent and problematic. Luckily, Minnesota has same-day registration. There is no reason you cannot take an hour of your time to be a productive member of a civil society.

No matter where you are on the ideological spectrum, I think we can agree that we’re living in uncharted territory. The parties are more polarized than ever and atrocities against both marginalized groups and political leaders seem to be almost a daily occurrence. This is not the time to stay home. This is not the time to sit it out. Not everyone needs to be a political activist, but we all need to be participants in the society we live in. Only 28 percent of people our age plan to vote, according to the nonpartisan, nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute. This is abysmal. We cannot be angry if we do not contribute. This isn’t the time to fall in line with the laziness of generations before us. In other words, just vote.