2016 isn’t just a major year for the presidential election. Local elections are heating up around the country as well, taking place in cities like Baltimore, Baton Rouge, Portland, Virginia Beach, and Milwaukee in this year alone. And with campaigns running full force, a major question candidates are asking themselves is: How do we mobilize the millennial voter? Because traditional engagement with brochures and door to door campaigning doesn’t seem to have quite the same effect anymore.
CIRCLE, a Tufts based center that studies civic engagement among young American voters, found that the number of young Americans that voted in the 2014 midterms was just 19.9%, down from 24% in 2010. It seems as though millennials aren’t showing up at the polls. Why might this be and how do we change this?
The Harvard Institute of Politics asked 18-29 year olds how much do they trust a range of political institutions to “ do the right thing” all or most of the time. The response was astonishing. Results showed that participants only trusted the President 36% and members of Congress 18% of the time. There seems to be a clear lack of trust amongst millennials regarding politicians, which translated to lower voter turnout.
Voting is a critical right that allows us to voice our opinion and choose those who best represent us to make the best decisions that regard us. When we fail to vote we fail ourselves. Understandably, with all of the various elections on a federal and local level, it may be difficult to keep up with the candidates and learn who it is that you can actually trust. It may also be hard for campaigns to reach this new class of voters that are engaged through non traditional platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Some cities have tried to engage their citizens with voting applications. Cities such as Philadelphia have launched an app called Voter App.Voter App was created as a public service to its citizens. It makes it quick and easy to determine where polling places are located according to your local address. It also helps you get in touch with your elected officials. It brings Philadelphia politics to your fingertips. Other applications like Think Voting App have also taken on this challenge of mobilizing millennials. Their app, available in iTunes and Google Play, gives you the who, what, when,where, why and how for any election. This app uses data to aggregate information about candidates and explain ballot specific issues to voters. It also allows you to compare candidates. All of this is just as easy as using Facebook or Twitter. There are more applications being created to mobilize voters. With all of this information at our fingertips, there’s no reason we can’t show up and show out at the polls for our local and federal elections this year.