by Monica Reid, Guest Blogger
What comes to mind when you hear the number 78 million?
78 million is the current baby boomer generation. What generation could be larger than 78 million?
As it currently stands, the millennial generation is the largest and most diverse generation in American history with a whopping 95 million people. The millennial voting strength has increased as a result. In 2012, millennial voters ages 18-29 comprised 19% of the electorate. According to the Center for American Progress, millennials are a full quarter of the voting-age American public with 46 million potential voters. This is in comparison to the 39 million block of voters older than age 65. Needless to say, we are a force to be reckoned with! However, are we truly aware of just how much political power we possess?
However, are we truly aware of just how much political power we possess?
#1. We can change the political direction of this country.
In 2014, millennials only comprised 13% of the electorate compared to 19% in 2012. This represents approximately 14 million fewer millennial voters. The 2008 presidential election was a peak year for youth voter turnout with 52%. However during the 2012 presidential election the turnout dropped to 45%. In nonpresidential elections, we definitely see a trend of lower voter turnout among millennial voters. However, the relevance of our issues is not isolated to just presidential elections. A number of elections take place every year that determine the composition of our local city councils, state attorney’s, governorships and our state legislatures. As millennial voters, and specifically black millennial voters, seeking to influence policy and successfully implement legislation of interest to our communities, continually engaging in our electoral process is vital. Every election is important. In 2012, 43% of voting age millennials were people of color.
#2. Our Votes Impact Black Lives Matter.
We’ve all seen how the instances of deadly force used toward black men and women by law enforcement have fueled the Black Lives Matter movement. We’ve seen how their actions are impacting elected officials at all levels of government and bringing issues of racial and criminal justice reform to the forefront. Continued civic engagement by millennials in keeping elected officials accountable, electing candidates that support our issues and encouraging other members of our community to get involved will be crucial.
In Virginia, a coalition of civic organizations is doing just that – seeking to engage more black residents in Northern Virginia in the political process. The Northern Virginia (NOVA) Coalition is a collaboration of 30+ civic and faith-based organizations in Northern Virginia focusing on African American voter registration, education and empowerment. Through its “NOVA Votes: Educating and Encouraging the Black Vote Campaign,” we’ve been able to reach thousands of black voters in Northern Virginia. Between now and the October 13th deadline, we are launching an aggressive voter registration campaign to in Northern Virginia in preparation for the November election. This is a perfect opportunity to get more involved and engaged! We are always looking for new collaborations, partnerships and volunteers to help us reach our goal. If you are interested in learning more or in volunteering, you may contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
#3. If we don’t show up we cannot complain.
As millennials we are notorious for bluntly expressing how we feel. Sometimes our arguments warranted, other times they are baseless. In the case of our communities and who is in leadership, we will have zero legs to stand on if we don’t vote. Local votes are not as complicated as presidential ones. Because fewer people turn out to vote, the greater our chances are to get who we want in office. Learn when your local elections are, educate yourselves about the candidates and SHOW UP to vote. If you don’t, you cannot complain.
We have the political power to change this country. Let’s get to it!
Monica Reid, a graduate of George Mason University where she received a B.A. in Government & International Politics and Economics and a Masters in Public Administration, has been a leading force behind social and civic awareness for a number of years. A dedicated public servant and a government relations professional with over 8 years of professional experience, Monica has worked to promote civil awareness, political engagement and advocacy throughout the Washington Metropolitan Region.