By LaKeshia N. Myers
At age thirty-eight, I am among the first generation in my family who was born with unencumbered voting rights. My parents, both born in the 1950s, to waited patiently to vote until they were twenty-one, which was at that time, the age of majority. My grandparents voted much later in life because they grappled with Jim Crow laws, poll taxes, and literacy tests.
I think this might be one of the reasons my parents take voting and so seriously and have instilled the practice in my sister and I. I remember working on campaigns as a child and meeting elected officials when they would canvass the neighborhood. I learned early on that voting really does matter and politicians do pay attention to constituents.
Which begs to question, why nearly one third of Americans don’t participate in the Democratic process of voting. According to National Public Radio, more Americans voted in 2020 than in any other presidential election in 120 years. This translates to about sixty-seven percent of eligible voters who cast ballots, about eight million people who stayed home (NPR, 2020). According to the NPR poll, those who chose not to vote were disengaged, disaffected and don’t believe politics can make a difference in their lives. They were also more likely to be Latino (which is becoming the U.S.’s majority ethnic population), younger, make less money and have lower levels of education than voters.
As millennials and Gen Z age, voting must become more of a priority. I also believe it would behoove our major political parties to welcome and train young people, and especially those of color to run for elected office. People deserve (and should expect) to see themselves represented within elected office.
So as you travel to the ballot box next week, understand all that is at stake. Economy, employment, education, etc. all of the issues we care about can be challenged and/or changed when you choose to participate. Vote like your life depends on it!