I was armed with my laptop streaming live coverage of the event through various web and news sites, I listened to my phone streaming special live coverage from NPR, and I kept in touch with friends watching the election unfold through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and text. We were all pumped and excited to the point where we all could have been mistaken for football fanatics at the Super Bowl. I was truly amazed for more reasons than just getting to hear the election results, but because I had encountered so many young voters who took the time and try to educate themselves on the issues and voice their opinions at the polls.
I was so proud of my generations attempt at completing their civic duty and caring about their future. They saw the importance of knowing what was going on around them and how it could affect their entire life, and regardless of who they voted for or their political affiliation, I was, and I’m still, incredibly happy that the majority of my friends (except for one individual who has complained about her rights before…) mailed a ballot in or went to their voting place to make a difference.
Even the voters in New York and New Jersey who were hit by a devastating hurricane had an amazing voter turnout this election year. They braved cold temperatures, and shortages of supplies and power, and they still went out to vote. A young first-time mother even managed to go down to the voting booths while in labor to cast her ballot.
Facebook even recorded that yesterday by mid-afternoon 3.7 million users planned to cast their ballots by hitting the “I’m voting” button at the top of their page. “Roughly two-thirds of those Facebook voters are under 35,” which reveals the rising trend of political activism among students since the 2004 election between Bush and Kerry. According to New American Media, the “election in 2008 resulted in a 2.1 percent increase of student voters (51.1 percent of Americans between ages 18 and 29),” and the election this year brought in even a greater youth turnout.
The internet had a lot to do with the rise in young informed voters. Candidates originally had to only rely on television and the radio to reach voters, the median age of which was 63. Voters ages 18-34 were out of the loop, but as the internet grew and the media moved to accept social media sites as platforms for distributing information, young voters were included and became more involved with politics.
Although, President Obama did win re-election with 303 electoral votes (he needed 270 to win), and 50 percent of the popular vote with 59,725,608 votes, and Mitt Romney collected 206 electoral votes and 48 percent of the popular vote with 57,098,650 votes, the fact that so many young voters went out and voiced their opinions should be uplifting, even if you’re favorite candidate didn’t win.
I’m obviously not as excited to hear about how California voters rejected the ballot measure which would have repealed the state’s death penalty, or the measure proposed to require genetic engineered food to be clearly labeled, but I am happy that the measure which will increase penalties for human trafficking offenses, the measure which would help public schools K-12 and higher education, and the fact that young people even knew what these propositions were about.
I’m proud of my generation for doing their part and realizing that participating in these democratic elections. It means a lot to me to know that others care about their livelihood and their future.