Madison Kimrey is passionate, eloquent, astonishingly intelligent, and an outspoken advocate for voting rights. Living in North Carolina has allowed Madison to witness voting legislation aimed squarely at making it more difficult for young people to exercise their right to vote. But instead of standing silently by, Madison has chosen to become an activist. She writes, she protests, she speaks, and she will not stop. It is my honor and privilege to share this post, written by Madison Kimrey exclusively for Forward Progressives, with our readers.
Harvard’s Institute of Politics conducted a recent poll in which they found only 1 in 4 voters between the ages of 18-29 said they will “definitely” be voting this November. That’s only 23 percent of young voters. This is down 11% since the fall.
Let me say this again. Only 23% of voters under age 30 say they will definitely vote in the mid-term elections. Further polling shows that young voters have an increasing distrust in government and doubt in the effectiveness of the political process.
Here in my own state of North Carolina, a massive 56 page voting reform bill was passed last year that included the elimination of pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds. Teens had the opportunity to pre-register at the DMV when getting a driver’s license or through education programs in their high schools and automatically be added to the voter rolls when they turned 18. This bill also eliminated same-day registration and says college IDs are not acceptable when the new ID requirement goes into effect in 2016.
When I stood up and spoke out about the elimination of pre-registration and tried to meet with my Governor to discuss the issue, Governor Pat McCrory called me a prop for liberal groups and later said that “other adults” were “manipulating publicity stunts for other purposes,” essentially calling me a prop again. That’s right, the way the Governor of North Carolina chose to respond to a young citizen was to name call and tell lies about her. This is not the kind of leadership that promotes youth involvement or helps to restore the trust of young people in our government and political system.
I can totally understand, perhaps better than some people, why there is such distrust and disgust among young people where politics and government is concerned. But tuning out and dropping out is absolutely the wrong answer for young voters and future voters.
When older voters participate in greater numbers than we do, the issues that are important to them get more representation. They and their issues get more attention from candidates and representatives. We are the ones who are going to be taking over soon and we must start now to build the kind of future we want. Check this out, from Emily Badger of Washington Post: Millennials Are Undercutting Their own Influence on Social Policy.
We could be moving more quickly towards the future we want if only we would turn out and participate. We’re getting in the way of ourselves. Don’t believe people like my Governor here in NC who believe young people aren’t capable, or be discouraged by laws like the voting reforms passed by my State Legislature. We have great power and these people wouldn’t be working so hard to discourage and dissuade us if we didn’t.
We have a clear choice to either complain without recourse or take action to shape the future for ourselves and those who will come after us. There are representatives and candidates out there who ARE listening. We need to be using our voices, and communicating with our representatives and candidates, sharing posts and tweets from the ones we support, and sharing information about the issues that are important to us. If we want leadership that treats young people with dignity and respect and that promotes policies that are designed to enhance our participation, it’s up to us to demand it.