Why are Young People not Voting?

Rejani King
Staff Writer

opinions_rejani_voting_flickr_Erik (HASH) Hersman

PC: Erik (HASH) Hersman

This upcoming election on Nov. 6, 2018 is incredibly important. Why? It’s midterms. Midterm elections are important because they affect an individual’s state representation in Congress. Elections like this one usually see a lower voter turnout than others. It’s important that not only people of color but young people in general show up to the polls. We need more people in Congress that are going to fight for the issues that directly affects us.

As young people, we need our voices to be heard if we want to see any amount of progress in America. According to the county officials of Fairfax County in Virginia, college students are failing to send back their absentee ballots, because they didn’t know how to get a stamp. This is interesting because, although it is common knowledge to get stamps at a post office, there often are not post offices on campuses, making them less accessible.

Generation Z is the most influential generation that America has seen, because social media has allowed us to share our views in a scale unseen by any generation prior. Our vote matters and issues like, not knowing where to obtain stamps to mail in absentee ballots, is a major problem. Those are lost votes that are incredibly needed.

Lisa Connors, a  member of the Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs, ran a focus group that consisted of college students who interned at different county departments. She stated, “One thing that came up, which I had heard from my own kids but thought they were just nerdy, was that the students will go through the process of applying for a mail-in absentee ballot, they will fill out the ballot, and then, they don’t know where to get stamps. That seems like a hump they can’t get across.” Personally, I’ve come across this issue recently. I knew that I would not have time to vote on the actual midterm election day, which led me to take the route of voting by absentee ballot. I applied and filled it out. Then when I got to the point of needing to mail it, I questioned where I could get a stamp. Luckily, UNCG has a post office  and I was able to get one there, so students here at UNCG have no excuse.

Connors continues to state that, “they knew lots of people who did not send in their ballots because it was too much of a hassle or they didn’t know where to get a stamp. Across the board, they were all nodding and had a very spirited conversation about ‘Oh yeah, I know so many people who didn’t send theirs in because they didn’t have a stamp.’”

As a first time voter, not knowing where to find a stamp didn’t stop me from finding one, because I know how important it is to vote in this election. Personally, I could not justify not sending in my ballot.

To combat the issue of students not being able to mail in their ballots due to not having stamps, the Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs are focusing on raising awareness for in-person absentee ballot voting. This is a process that students can actually do at home.

Another issue for students is mixing up their home address. Many college students don’t know which address to use to mail in their ballots. When students are registering to vote, they have to put the address of their home where they are voting. If students don’t do this, the vote is not considered valid.

According to Business Insider, individuals can buy stamps from the U.S. Postal Service’s website, banks, gas stations, pharmacies, and Walmart. Also, The U.S. Postal Service has a policy where they still mail absentee ballots, whether or not they have a postage stamp on them. Instead of returning the ballot to sender, they charge the local election board a fee.

Young people, our voices matter. Voting in the midterm elections may not seem like a big deal, but it is monumentally important. It ultimately decides who is sitting in Congress, and is making decisions on behalf of America. If you need to find a stamp to mail in your ballot, check out UNCG’s post office. Please, don’t skip voting because of a simple matter like this. America needs you this Nov. 6, 2018.

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