“I need you,” Hillary Clinton told a crowd of students at Temple University one month before the 2016 election. “I need you as partners, not just for winning this election, but for driving real change.”
She continued, “Not voting is not an option. That just plays into Trump’s hands. It really does.”
Following the results of the election it was released that only 49 percent of eligible millennial voters participated in the 2016 election.
The problem is not lazy or disengaged Millennials, but instead a voting process that hasn’t been updated since many of these voters were born.
“The overwhelming wisdom is that the people who didn’t turn out to vote … 60 percent of them, didn’t turn out because of process issues — either they couldn't get their registration done in time, they forgot there was an election, they couldn’t get off work in time, those sorts of things,” Brandon Naylor, Director of Communications at DemocracyWorks said.
DemocracyWorks is a nonprofit organization founded by Seth Flaxman and Kathryn Peters after Flaxman realized how many elections he had missed in grad school simply because he lost track of when they were taking place, and he could not find an online system in place to remind him.
“We can rent a movie, or connect with friends or go shopping — do all of these things that are arguably much less important than voting — a lot easier than we can actually interact with our democracy,” Flaxman said.
In 2012, DemocracyWorks helped nearly 200,000 people vote in the 2012 election with their TurboVote service, which keeps track of voter registration, rules and laws, forms and sends reminders of upcoming elections, and has even partnered with Facebook to send reminders to younger voters.
Rand Hoch, President of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council said getting younger people involved in the voting process is critical in ensuring policy change.
“We have an opportunity here in 2018 to be a game changer,” Hoch said. “You get these young people involved and understanding what is going on, and the demographics of who is a voter changes drastically.”
According to Hoch, over 40 states had data showing that there were more people who didn’t vote than there were people who cast a vote for Trump.
He continued, “Right now seniors are the ones who vote the most. Fortunately we have a lot of supportive gay seniors here in Palm Beach County, maybe not so much around the rest of the world. You change the dynamics of the Millennial, who are the largest demographic, you change who is in Tallahassee, you change who is in D.C.”
PBCHRC attaches voter registration links with almost everything it sends out, according to Hoch. Social media is a more effective channel for reaching younger generations than email or phone calls, and PBCHRC has used its Facebook page to attract younger audiences.
“Through history younger people have led civil rights movements, and it’s fair to say that the representation for the LGBT community and intersectional community, those are prime examples of how young people are getting involved in advocacy because those are the issues that matter most to them,” Naylor said.
“It makes perfect sense for advocacy organizations to look to voter resignation,” he continued. “You aren’t asking anybody to do anything in support of your specific advocacy; you’re asking people to perform their civic duty. It’s way harder to get somebody to sign a petition for a specific topic than it is to ask someone to register to vote, and we don’t ask how they vote.”