I turned 18 years old on Nov. 11, 2016, meaning that I was just three days too young to vote in the 2016 Presidential election. Though I was relatively confident that New Jersey’s electoral votes would all go to the candidate of my choice, I hated being unable to have a voice in an election I had watched so closely and cared more passionately about than any political race before. The midterm elections for the House of Representatives happen this fall and provide an opportunity to get to the polls and elect representatives who will best serve our needs. If you’re like me and couldn’t vote in 2016, this election will be your first opportunity to make your voice heard in national politics.
At NYU, students who are United States citizens have the ability to register to vote in either their home state or in New York. However, given New York’s large and politically homogeneous environment, students should register to vote in their home state before the midterm election.
Millennials, anyone between the ages of 18 and 35, make up one of the largest percentages of the U.S. electorate, but turn out in the lowest numbers at the ballots. Millenials and Baby Boomers now make up an equal share of the electorate, but as Baby Boomers continue to age, millennials will only increase to make up the largest share of the voting age population. Millennials did turn out in significantly higher numbers for the 2016 election than the 2012 one. However, only 49 percent of the eligible population cast their votes, compared to 69 percent of Baby Boomers.
November’s midterm elections have the potential to drastically shake-up the House of Representatives and give Democrats the majority. Thirty nine GOP incumbents will not seek reelection, leaving a total of 58 vacancies in the House. In New York, a majority of the current representatives are Democrats — nearly all representatives of city districts are. New York City is unlikely to deliver any major surprises in the 2018 midterm election, however, in many other states, the races for seats in the House will be close. In Pennsylvania, the congressional map was recent redrawn to undo gerrymandering that favored Republicans, meaning Democrats could potentially win 20 seats. In Minnesota, four of the eight voting districts are projected to have tight races, making the state an important determinant for the fate of the House.
Regardless of your political affiliation, voting in this midterm election will be crucial in setting the tone for national politics going into the 2020 presidential election. Republicans currently control the House, and whether it flips or the GOP majority remains will set the course important legislative issues in the coming years.
So I implore you, if you are not already registered, to make it a priority this summer to register to vote. Register in your own state, especially if you’re from a smaller, more politically diverse area where your vote will carry more weight, and when the midterm elections roll around this fall, mail in your ballot to make your vote count. Registering to vote is easy — most states have online voter registration which can be completed in minutes. Young people, in sheer numbers, have incredible power to shape national politics, but that power has historically gone unused. In this coming midterm election, and subsequent elections in years to come, the stakes are too high to allow the trend to continue.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.
A version of this appeared in the Monday, April 23 print edition. Email Ali Zimmerman at [email protected].