As of August 6, 74,757 (13.9% of the 537,223 total registered voters) have voted early in the Shelby County Election of 2014. 2.1% of those voters’ age range from 18-24. The older generations is concerned about these results. Why is the youth not participating in the election? Being an 18 year old who grew up in Memphis, I can answer that question for you. I will bust the myth that my generation does not vote because they cannot stay out the club or any other negative statement. The problem is that we do not know much about this process, ignorant on who to vote for, and some are too embarrassed to ask questions.
Personally, I did not know much the voting process. I really did not pay it any attention until I attended Memphis Challenge’s annual summer soirée at the National Civil Rights Museum this year. Cassandra Webster, the executive director, stressed the significance of voting to my fellow MC alum. She said that we cannot complain about the community if we do not vote. Her words abided in my head as I toured the museum.
She later introduced me to a candidate in this year’s election, and both of them asked me if I was registered to vote. I was ignorant about the voting process at the time, so I said that I had just turned 18, so I guessed automatically that I am registered. Ms. Webster corrected me, and told me that I will have to wait until November if I do register. I was disappointed, and I began to wonder how many of my peers have voted or even know about the election.
That night, I tweeted “RT if you already voted” to my 904 followers. I know that is not a lot of followers, but I just wanted to find out. Only two of my followers re-tweeted it, and one girl asked me what election was I tweeting about?
I also asked one of my friends if she has voted yet. She replied with a no, and said that she is only registered because someone from her government class in high school mentioned the voting process to her. She also stated she hasn’t vote yet because she knows nothing about the candidates.
Young adults are ignorant to voting. They don’t know who the candidates are or what they represent. Although Bridge Builders help young adults understand but that’s not enough. One teen said he said he didn’t want to give the power to someone who didn’t deserve it and that’s why he didn’t want to vote. During a recent survey of 8 ranging ages 18-40, 6 said no they had not voted and did not plan on voting. One lady stated she did not vote because her parents did not vote and she didn’t understand the elections so she wasn’t going to vote.
Overall before we start saying young adults want to be in the club, party and have no future, start to think have we or the delegates done their due diligence and educated the young adults on why they should vote, how it effects them and their future and who and what they represent. To get more of them to vote, talk to them more because they are our future leaders.
Written by Keturah Harris and Leshundra Robinson