How can youth push forward health as a human right?
Youth power nearly 40% of the world's population, and our voices matter. The decisions policy makers make today impact our lives in the present and the future. We as young people have the power to inform public policy-making, and it is important that we exercise our rights. Becoming a registered voter is the first step. Voting and asking your elected representatives to represent the causes and policies that matter to you are rights you should exercise. Your voice matters. Vote.
WHY IS VOTING IMPORTANT?
Our vote is our voice in our government. If we want elected representatives in office who represent our needs and concerns, we need to vote. The right to vote wasn't always a given--we fought and died for the right to vote--so that those historically disenfranchised--people of color, women, and the poor could have their voices represented as citizens. We fought hard for universal enfranchisement because our vote gives us power.
WHY DOES THE YOUTH VOTE MATTER?
This is the first campaign year where people age 18 to 29 make up the same proportion of the electorate as do baby boomers--about one-third. This makes young voters a powerful political force--yet young voters are the least likely to vote of any age group. Just 19.9% of 18-29 year olds voted in the 2014 elections. That was the lowest youth voter turnout rate ever recorded in a federal election.
Young voters constitute the most diverse age group in America, making this demographic perhaps one of the best voices for political candidates who will cater to the needs of more than just one group. Currently, 61% of young people are white, 17% are Hispanic, 15% are African-American, 4% are Asian, and the remaining 3% are of mixed or Native American descent. With diversity only growing in the U.S., it is increasingly important that the diversity of views in our electorate are represented by our elected officials.
THE YOUTH VOTE CAN DECIDE OUR POLITICS
It is important for youth to engage with local as well as national politics. Only 50% of eligible youth voted in the 2016 presidential elections. The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) released the Youth Electoral Significance Index (YESI) in early 2016, a data-based ranking of the states and districts, projecting that young voters (ages 18-29) had the most potential to impact the 2016 Presidential & Congressional elections.
The U.S. midterm elections will take place on November 6, 2018. It is critical that youth not only get registered to vote and make a plan to vote in 2018, but also participate in local and national politics leading to the midterm elections.