The U.S. Census Bureau reports millennials—those persons born between 1982 and 2000—are now in the majority, outpacing baby boomers by nearly eight million people. This statistic has important ramifications to the 2016 election in which millennials, many of whom may be first-time voters, power election results. The Pew Research Center reports an estimated 69.2 million millennials were voting-age U.S. citizens as of April 2016. In the 2012 election, 46 percent of eligible millennials voted. Pew calculates it will take a 58 percent turnout of eligible millennial voters for this generation’s voting clout to match their share of the electorate. Many millennials, unfortunately, do not understand how their vote may impact the 2016 Presidential election.
“Millennials aren’t all that different from any other generation in the sense that political engagement increases in age,” said Dr. Curtis Ellis, chair of the History, Humanities and Government department.
Many people act like the lack of involvement in young generations is new, but this trend is seen throughout history. Many politicians focus their messages on issues important to older voters. When politicians do not engage younger voters, they lose interest and choose to stand-by rather than become actively involved in the process.
“Because [millennials] feel ignored they don’t feel significant,” said Ellis. “Neither of the candidates that are left have a platform that prioritizes the interests of [millennials]. Candidates pay attention to people who vote, and young people don’t.”
Ellis recommends by voting, the millennial generation has an opportunity to not only impact this election, but impact the platform of candidates in the future. This starts with being registered and committed to vote.
One of the easiest ways to start getting involved is to become informed. Ellis suggests spending time daily on political websites and learning about the issues. He said many times confusion is the source of not being active during elections. Being informed helps overcome that barrier.
Take the first step and register
The commitment to vote starts with registering. ORU students who are U.S. citizens and live on campus or locally, may register in their home states or in Oklahoma.
Home state registration
You can register online in most states and still meet important deadlines. One is to request your early voting absentee ballot if you will not be able to vote in your designated voting location on Tuesday, Nov. 8. To get more information about registration or the absentee ballot in your state, find your county election board office online or visit https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote.
Registering in Oklahoma
To register to vote in Oklahoma, download a voter registration form at elections.ok.gov, or visit any Department of Motor Vehicles office to get a mail-in form. You may also register at the Tulsa County Election Board, 555 N. Denver Ave. A driver’s license or Social Security card is required. The Oklahoma deadline to register for the 2016 election is Oct. 14, 2016.
Register on campus Sept. 29
The ORU Honors Program in conjunction with the Oracle will host “Raise Your Voice,” a register-and-vote event on Thursday, Sept. 29. Voter registration kiosks and tables will be available beginning at 7 p.m. in Zoppelt Auditorium. In addition to registering to vote, current Oklahoma state representatives and other civic leaders will be on hand to answer questions about the election, voting process and more.