Sophie Corbett is a journalism sophomore. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.
Every day on social media, I see pictures of my peers at protests, posts about COVID-19, posts in support of Black Lives Matter and tributes to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As a young person, this gives me hope that we are moving towards social and political change. It seems as if our generation is more politically involved now than ever. But at the same time, I fear that it’s not enough and this perception is not reality.
According to the United States Census, voter turnout in the 2016 presidential election among 18 to 29-year-olds was 46.1%. While this was a slight increase of 1.1% compared to the 2012 presidential election, that’s still less than half the people in that age group. Compared to the other age groups, the youth miserably fail. Thirty to 44-year-olds had a voter turnout of 58.7%, 45 to 64-year-olds had a voter turnout of 66.6%, and citizens 65 years or older had a voter turnout of 70%.
This needs to change. If we want our politicians to care about the issues we’re passionate about, we need to vote.
Attending protests and spreading the word on social media is great and important. With that being said, the real change is going to come on Nov. 3.
If you felt outraged by George Floyd’s death, if you’ve been calling for Breonna Taylor’s killers to be arrested, if you are posting on social media that you’re concerned about a woman’s right to choose since RBG’s death, if you’re upset by how the current administration has handled COVID-19, you need to bring that same energy to the polls.
If you were enraged by anything that has transpired over the last few months, the time to make your voice heard is now.
We need to elect politicians who are going to make positive changes and respond to the changing social and political climate in this country. People have had enough—of racism, of sexism, of poor leadership at all levels of government—and we need to make that known on Nov. 3. If we want to see real change, we need to elect people who share those same values and will fight for them.
I’m not just talking about the presidential election. The presidency is incredibly important, but I think that people don’t realize that real change can be transpired through all levels of government, whether that be local, state or federal. While California senators aren’t up for reelection in this upcoming election cycle, 35 Senate seats are. Many of these seats up for reelection are in neighboring states where many Cal Poly out of state students are from, like Colorado, Arizona, and Oregon. Additionally, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for reelection. Voting is not just about the presidency, it’s about our entire government.
While you might be wholeheartedly committed to casting your ballot in the 2020 election, I can guarantee you not all of your peers are, even those that seem politically “woke”. Talk to your friends and classmates. Ask them if they have a voting plan and if they’ve done their research. If we want young people to have a voice in this country, the time to show up and demand change is now.