Millennials are now as large of a political force as baby boomers, according to an analysis of U.S. census data from the Pew Research Center. Both generations consist of approximately 31 percent of the electorate.
Millennials have been extremely vocal on social media, about their views towards the 2016 presidential election. With this election being particularly dramatic, many young people haven't hesitated to post their opinions online. Because of their heavy social media presence, millennials are assumed to turnout on voting day in massive numbers. However, recent research shows that is not the case.
In the United States, when a man reaches 18-years of age, he is required by law to register for the Selective Service, or the draft, within 30 days of his birthday. While there hasn't been a draft since 1973, registering for the Draft is considered a "civic duty" for American men, and failing to register in the appropriate amount of time is against the law. In fact, on the official website of the Selective Service System, it says "It's what a man's got to do."
If signing up for up for the draft is considered a man's duty as an American, shouldn't voting be held to the same standard? It makes perfect sense that 18 year olds should be required to register to vote within a certain amount of time surrounding their birthday. There is no harm done in registering to vote. It's completely free, and once registered, there is no requirement that anyone has to vote. Not to mention, registering to vote is easier than a lot of people think. Online voter registration is secure, efficient, and easily accessible in most states. Unfortunately, less than half of U.S. states provide online voter registration.
As the baby boomer population declines, more and more young people reach voting age and increase their voter poll percentage. Consequently, our political power is likely to grow in the coming years.
But somehow, NPR reports that millennials continue to have the lowest voter turnout of any age group. In the 2012 election, voters between the ages 18-29 made up just 19 percent of the electorate, just half the share of the of the baby boomer voting bloc. Research has shown that requiring 18-year-olds to vote will drastically increase voter turnout, according to Demos. The U.S. is just one of the few of democracies that places the duty of registration on its citizens. Many other democracies rely on the government to ensure that eligible voters are registered. For example, Demos reports that registration in Canada is over 90 percent due to their government's proactive role in voter registration. In 2015, Canada saw their highest voter turnout in two decades, according to The Huffington Post.
This is the first election year in which essentially all millennials in the country have reached voting age. While there isn't a huge difference of voter turnout between the silent generation, baby boomers and millennials, millennials tend to be lax voters. However, NPR reports that studies have shown that when older generations were young, they also showed trends of inconsistent voting. Just because millennials are in their youth, it doesn't necessarily mean that they don't care about politics. It could be that it will take a few elections to turn young people into stable and consistent voters.
But of course, this does not help any candidate running for office. As millennials age, they are relied on more heavily to show up to the polls on voting day. Young people today are passionate when it comes to their political beliefs, and should have every opportunity to make their voices heard. Voting registration that is required and accessible online in every state is vital to this country. When a young person votes, they are being conscious of the society that eventually be dominated by them. It is only fair to give us every opportunity to vote for our future leaders. It is in the best interest of not only us, but for generations to come.