Why And How You Should Vote

Voter registration cards like these are available at City Hall or at your polling place. Courtesy of maine.gov

Voter registration cards like this are available at City Hall or your polling place. (Courtesy of maine.gov)

by Sydnee Harris, ’16

Another presidential voting year is upon us. But for most Millennials, voting never crosses their mind. Some aren’t even sure how to register—something I discovered when discussing the local election with some of my friends. Surprisingly, 37 percent say that their vote doesn’t really matter, and a staggering 55 percent say there are better ways of getting your point across. Voting is the most effective way for your voice as a citizen to be heard, and if things aren’t going the way you prefer, not voting won’t help it at all.

Registering to vote is as simple as showing up to do it. In the state of Maine, you don’t even have to wait until you’re 18. According to The State of Maine’s Voter Guide, you can register at 17 years old and vote in the Primary Election if you will be 18 years old at the time of the General Election.

In order to actually register, you go to your city hall, which in Auburn is located at 60 Court Street, and you fill out a voter registration card. Maine has same-day registration, which means you can register up to the day of an election to participate in that election. You can even register at most polling places.

Millennials make up 52 percent of the world’s population and about 28 percent of the U.S. population—Anyone born before November 8, 1998 can vote this year. Millennials are a larger portion of the US than Baby Boomers and Generation X and we therefore have the most voting power. The problem is our lack of voting.

While knowing how to vote is one thing, knowing why to vote is another. Every vote counts. In the 2000 Presidential Election, it came down to one state, Florida, and 537 votes. Although that seems like a large number, on a national scale that is a very slight margin, and that election sparked quite the controversy. Although Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote, Republican George Bush won the electoral college, and that is what matters in the long run.

Popular votes are taken and transferred into electoral votes. Each state has an amount based on population. Maine has four, but we also have proportional representation. This means that if 51 percent of voters vote one way, and 49 percent vote another, our state would split the votes, but Maine and Nebraska are the only states with that system. Most states have a “winner-take-all” system in which the 51 percent would get all the votes. For big states like California—who has 55 votes—this can create a large disconnect between who they wanted and who gets their votes. It truly does come down to splitting hairs, and so the few who don’t vote can make a difference.

According to voting advocacy group Rock the Vote, the biggest concerns Millennials site are the state of education in regards to lack of funding and the price of college, and the economy in regards to being paid livable wages, inflation, and cost of living. Both of these issues tend to slip the mind of our Republican controlled senate. The best way for our voice to be heard is to be an advocate for what you want.

A Harvard study on peer influence showed that living with someone who voted or having friends that voted increased one’s chance of voting. Talk with your friends, family, coworkers and everyone in between about how important it is. The more social pressure they feel, the more likely they are to go out and actually do it.

Although there may be more bold and brash ways for your voice to be heard, unless you’re going to overthrow the government before November 8 this year, go out and vote.

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