Will Young People Vote This Time? We’re Not So Sure. Here’s Why…
Today’s The Last Day To Register To Vote In Many Key States. That Includes Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada (By Mail), Texas, And Tennessee.
Update: One of our young, liberal, non-voter friends who we talked about in the story and have been pestering to register, just surprised us by getting in touch to let us know at the last possible moment earlier this week, they registered! They even sent me a photo of their newly-minted Texas voter registration receipt!
All hope is not lost!
We know a bunch of people who’ve moved in the past year or so to many of those states. Most of them are in their 20s. Most are white. They’ve headed out to Miami, or Austin, or Nashville, or Atlanta, or Las Vegas because there’s a lot going on in those places and it’s a lot cheaper than New York or the West Coast. Some of them have never voted before, because the first time they were eligible was the 2016 Election which they skipped.
And we checked in with a dozen or so over the past few days to make sure they’re registered to vote. And a shocking number don’t know if they are, or are definitely not. Or don’t know what the elections this year are for, and who their candidates are. Like half.
Even the people that had promised us they were going to register when we contacted them several months ago (and forwarded them info about how to register) had not. None of them. They all now promise they will by the deadline and swear they had absolutely intended to anyway. Only problem is, if there’s a problem now, like they don’t have the right ID or info handy, there’s no time to rectify it.
We hope they make good on their word this time around, and they don’t encounter any problems. We’ve never had any problems registering to vote in new places when we were young and moving around, but we always lived in states where the people in power wanted everybody to be able to vote easily. That really doesn’t seem to be the case these days, especially in some of the places we mentioned above.
We also asked these folks why they aren’t putting a priority on voting this year. After the 2016 Elections we consistently got one of 3 answers from people who hadn’t voted:
- They didn’t see any real difference between the two candidates.
- They don’t like being told what to do, and they felt like they were being told they had to vote for Hillary.
- They didn’t know what all the fuss was about.
This time around we only got one answer: they don’t know what all the fuss is about.
Or more specifically, they don’t want to know. They feel things haven’t really changed much for them personally since Trump became President, and although a couple we texted with had joined protests for gun control and against child separation, those issues seem separate to them from their day to day lives. They see and acknowledge the deep political divide the country is in, but also don’t understand why they’d want to be associated with a bunch of people who just scream at each other all the time. Or why anyone would want to join in on that.
And it occurred to us that’s part of the genius (whether intended or not) of the Trump administration. If you are white and not poor, not much has really changed for you since Trump became President. Not yet. So it’s easy to prevent his politics from interfering with your day-to-day life: just opt out. While there’s a loud, blustery message Trump sends to his supporters on the surface, there’s also a more subtle one going out to a lot of people who may not agree with him strongly, or at all. And that is if you’re not immediately in Trump’s line of fire, there’s not really any reason to engage or take action. Culture wars right now at least are for other people.
So we want to ask you a favor (we almost never ask you favors, do we?) If you know a person in one of the states we’ve mentioned above — or anywhere for that matter, since very few states allow same-day registration so if the deadline is not tomorrow it’ll be soon — just get in touch in a casual way today, and check if they’re registered and if they plan to vote. Their answers might surprise you. And although as we’ve just told you, we’ve had mixed success convincing our reluctant friends to participate, at least we’ve had some success. More than we’ve had convincing our Trump supporter friends to change their minds.
In fact that’s the second part of our message today: don’t bother wasting your time arguing with Trump supporters. We stopped. We still communicate with them. We still listen to them, so that we can know what the people we disagree with are thinking. But it’s clear to us now we’d been putting too much energy into these folks and not enough into people who are really pretty Liberal and/or Progressive in the way they think and behave but are just not enthusiastic voters.