Pundits say our generation is apathetic. Are they right?
In the 2008 election – a year that brought the largest proportion of young voters (ages 18-30) to the polls since the Vietnam War – only 50% of eligible voters in our generation, the millennial generation, cast a ballot. This year many expect those numbers to drop.
I want our generation to prove the pundits wrong.
Worried about the combined effect of millennials not voting and increasing voter suppression efforts across the country, I teamed up with Academy Award winning director Errol Morris to make a movie and a campaign in order to get young people to vote.
With his famous Interrotron, Errol interviewed, discussed, debated and challenged over 50 young men and women about why they choose to vote. The resulting movie, 11 Excellent Reasons Not to Vote? went live on the New York Times this week.
The movie is tied to a Facebook campaign at Ourtime.org, an organization dedicated to increasing voter awareness. Our hope is that people pledge to vote – we don’t need to know what candidate you support – just that you will vote on Election Day. Studies show that our generation is four times more likely to vote if we publicly pledge through social media. By pledging, and broadcasting that pledge online, can we hold our generation accountable?
In 2008, I believe our generation came out to vote on the premise of “hope.” But I doubt that hope will be the driving force in this year’s election. If it can’t be hope, let it be anger or defiance.
How can our generation not be defiant when we read of all of the attempts made to stop us from voting?
In the 2004 general election UNH college students awoke on Election Day to find a flyer under their doors falsely warning that out-of-state students who voted in NH might be at risk of losing their financial aid, that they or their parents might lose their health insurance.
As the 2012 general election fast approaches, there have been alarming reports of efforts and plans to disenfranchise young, minority and elderly voters – from legislation requiring new forms of voter identification to straight out voter intimidation.
Billboards threatening fines and jail terms for voter fraud loom over inner-city neighborhoods in Cleveland, Ohio. In Texas a suburban soccer mom is attempting to rally one million followers to intimidate and prevent people from voting at the polls in an organization with the Orwellian name True the Vote.
And, in New Hampshire, Representative William O’Brien was caught on tape saying that young voters lack enough life experience to vote; “they just vote their feelings,” and thus should be actively prevented from casting their ballots. These “young voters” that Representative O’Brien refers to include approximately 25% of the voting age population in America.
Imagine if 70% of young Americans voted. Imagine how politicians would have to take notice. Think of how influential we could be in setting a national agenda that address the issues that are most meaningful to our generation.
To not vote in this election is to lie down and make it easy for those who hope to disenfranchise us.
I, for one, will not stand for it. I hope you won’t either. We have five days to stand and fight. If we can make this campaign (I CAN. WILL. Campaign) go viral, if enough young people across America stand up in defiance, we just might be able to send a loud and clear message to all those trying to silence us.
Next Tuesday use your voice, and vote.
To learn more about the I CAN. I WILL. Campaign and view the “11 Excellent Reasons Not to Vote?” click here. Today seven more mini-features of why young voters choose to vote go live. Please listen to their stories here.