Tuesday, November 3, 2020, is Election Day in the USA. Traditionally, presidential elections in the USA have been held in November on the Tuesday after the first Monday of the month. As I write this blog, according to data compiled by the US Elections Project, more than 99,657,079 people have already cast an early vote, either personally or by post.
Who are the candidates before the US electorate? Donald Trump, the incumbent President, all of 74 years, will contest against the about to be 78 Senator Joe Biden, who may become the oldest President in American history. This reflects aging of the US electorate itself – data with Pew Research, Centre shows that registered voters aged 50 years and above constitute 52% of the electorate, up from 41% in 1996. The median age of electors has also increased dramatically – in 2019 the median age was 50, up from 44 in 1996.
Where does that leave the young Americans – Millennials, Gen Z, Dreamers …however you like to label yourself? Well, the scenario is not that bleak – Gen Z will constitute almost 10 per cent of the eligible electorate, up from 4 per cent in 2016.
What are the issues before the American youth, and how do we ensure that the largest number among them actually cast their ballot?
According to Pew Research, the two biggest issues with the electorate are the economy and healthcare, followed closely by Supreme Court appointments and the coronavirus outbreak. A BBC report suggests that the biggest issue for the youth is the economy, with many fearing that they may be forced to be part of a forgotten generation.
Historically it has been a challenge to get young voters to get out and vote. According to the CIRCLE at Tufts University, only 39% of eligible young people turned out to vote in 2016. However, for the 2020 elections, more than 5 million young people have already cast their votes, including 3 million in 14 crucial battleground states like Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, etc. In all these states, the youth constitute between 17 per cent to 20 per cent of eligible voters.
However, the proverbial slip between the lip and the cup in this very crucial US election is the chasm between an eligible voter and the one who has actually cast her/his vote.
Your vote will go toward deciding the sort of world you will live in tomorrow. It will ensure that your deepest convictions about the economy, about racism, about the environment, don’t just remain your opinions but become a larger reality.
I have a simple message for all #FirstTimeVoters. Get out there and VOTE!
I know that it takes effort and that it seems distant from your everyday concerns and busy schedules, but the commitment to vote is more than just another chore. It is your chance to put your stamp of approval on a candidate who you think resonates with your viewpoint. Sometimes though, you may have to choose the lesser of the devils. But choose you must!
In case you need help with your vote, here are some useful websites for you:
US Election Assistance Commission: Find your election day contact information for your state.
Election Protection: For information on everything you need to know about voting in your state. You can call on their English helpline: 866-OUR-VOTE / 866-687-8683. They even have hotlines for those who speak Asian languages, Arabic and Spanish!
Vote.org: Here you can check your registration, register to vote (it takes less than 2 minutes!), locate your polling place, become a poll worker, etc.
Vote 111: Just in case you are a first-time voter, you might find their checklist handy.
Happy First Time Voting to all of you!