Even with voter registration rolls increasing in California, young people tend to shy away from voting more than older people do.
And this Election Day, extraordinary though the campaign season is, likely will be no different. The Public Policy Institute of California estimates that Americans ages 18 to 34 will make up only 17 percent of the country’s likely voters in November.
Those are the same millennials who flocked to former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and his “political revolution.” Now that he has dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination, many of his more ardent supporters have vowed to skip the polls in November, even though the Vermont senator has endorsed Hillary Clinton.
Sanders might not be in the race anymore, but there are plenty of reasons to participate in our democracy. Here are six:
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Sanders ignited his revolution with promises to help a generation of young people and their families who are drowning in debt from skyrocketing tuition and fees. It’s a real issue, as many millennials know.
Clinton wisely released a proposal that would forgive loans for at least 25 million borrowers. She also has promised to make in-state public colleges and universities tuition-free by 2021 for families making less than $125,000 a year.
That’s a reason to vote that will actually pay off.
Millennials care about the health of a world they have to live in long after most baby boomers are gone. One of the most effective means of ensuring that is to elect leaders who will implement policies to combat climate change.
Nobody can solve this problem on his or her own. But by taking the simple step of voting for candidates at all levels of government who will make the environment a priority, the country can continue down the path laid out by President Barack Obama and Gov. Jerry Brown to cut carbon emissions.
For those who study abroad or enjoy traveling, the nation’s position on foreign affairs is vitally important to its relationships with other countries. That goes for countries in Europe, recently shaken by Britain’s exit from the European Union, and in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
Millennials are globally engaged. They also are concerned about terrorism and have ideas about how to corral it. Donald Trump, Independent Gary Johnson, the Green Party’s Jill Stein, and Clinton offer decidedly different prescriptions for making the world safer.
U.S. Supreme Court
The next president will decide who is appointed to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia in the U.S. Supreme Court. Critically important decisions hang in the balance.
Among them, laws that ensure the hard-fought rights of women and gays and lesbians remain intact. Campaign finance laws, another hot-button issue for Sanders and his young supporters, could come before the court again. Vote for someone who will take you into consideration when nominating the next justice.
There are 17 propositions on the Nov. 8 ballot. Many of them are controversial, some of them are snoozers. We believe that everyone should weigh in on such society-defining matters as ending the death penalty and legalizing marijuana.
We recognize that propositions can be confusing, especially with barrage of misleading ads that will be aired. But Californians are given a huge say in their government. Millennials should embrace the opportunity to shape the state.
You think politics is mainly about picking a president? Wrong.
The mayor matters. Your City Council representative and county supervisor matter. The quality of your area’s school board matters.
Prefer sprawl or a vibrant downtown? Is your idea of economic development subsidizing farmers and developers? Or is it providing incentives for small businesses and digital-technology entrepreneurs? Want more community policing or more SWAT teams?
Your greatest opportunity to influence these decisions is by voting.