Early Voting Was Eye Opening: The Importance Of The Youth Vote

On the first day of early voting in Nevada, I tucked my sample ballot in my purse and headed to the closest polling station to my house, the local supermarket. This was the day I had been waiting for, the day I could exercise my Constitutional power and vote for candidates who represent my interests, who will, hopefully, make changes here in my home state and in Washington, D.C. The parking lot was full, but it was a Saturday and lots of people do their grocery shopping on Saturday; I didn’t think the cars represented a throng of voters. I was wrong. When I walked through the sliding doors and glanced at the spot where the voting booths were set up, I saw two lines of people that snaked from the front of the store to the back. And, to my horror, everyone in line was over 60 years old—the demographic statistically more likely to oppose equality of any kind. Where were the outraged people under 30 who showed up at the protest marches in the city square, carrying signs with colorful slogans about booting the current president and his cronies out of office? I left without voting and came back later in the day. The lines were still long, and the voters were still old. With growing dejection, I drove to the library and cast my ballot after waiting in a shorter line. At 50-something, I was the youngest person there.

Yvette Schneider

Like many of my fellow Americans, I am holding my breath and praying that the damage this administration does is mild and short-lived, even though we have all seen evidence of the opposite. The president, with his wild rhetoric and propensity to create chaos in order to rally his supporters and deflect close scrutiny of his actions, is hoping to maintain control of both houses of Congress so he can continue his “anti” agenda—anti-lgbtq rights, anti-women’s rights, anti-climate protection,anti-immigration policies, etc. Our only hope is for younger voters and those with more progressive views to show up and vote. In the last election, only46.1% of 18-29-year olds voted, the demographic most likely to vote in favor of LGBTQ rights, whereas 70.9% of citizens over 65 voted—those least likely to vote in favor of LGBTQ rights.

While this is disturbing at the national level where President Trump’s conservative evangelical supporters are hoping that by the recent addition of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, they will have the votes needed to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, it is also a trend that can have a lasting impact on state elections that have been responsible for addressing issues like conversion-therapy bans, and inclusive bathroom laws.

Protesting, while attention grabbing and psychologically fulfilling, counts for nothing when the votes are counted. Retweeting witty comebacks to President Trump’s Twitter tirades, while providing a sense of solidarity with like-minded folks and providing a necessary emotional release, will not protect the hard-won rights of the LGBTQ community. Our real power is in the ballot box. With hope that younger voters will turn out on election day, I will continue monitoring the lines at the grocery store and waiting to exhale.

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