Amid the countless arguments of why young people don’t vote, has anyone ever stopped to notice the large proportion of the youth who do?
For once, our obsession with documenting our every steps have come to good use as taking snaps of ourselves voting is our proof and consequently busts this myth!
As a Black woman, not voting would be an insult to all those who fought for my right. From Emily Davison dying for female suffrage in the UK to the Montgomery marcher’s demands for Black suffrage in America.
Being denied the right to vote was being denied a voice. It was a reflection of an accumulation of other daily injustices. Essentially, it showed how certain groups weren’t seen as true citizens or even human at all.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that voting was once a privilege of the social elite. Voting is exercising your human right. It’s fighting against your oppressors- both past and present.
My first time voting after I had turned 18 was a special moment. A trip down memory lane at that. I voted at my old nursery and first primary school and so I’m sure the 4-year-old me would be brimming in pride.
It felt like a right of passage. Voting was part of my process of adulting. I mean I did go with my mum but that’s besides the point.
Voting was my way of speaking out against a society hell-bent on trying to define and confine me into a tight box. It was liberating to say the least.
With regards to the young people who don’t vote, many just can’t understand why. Personally, I think that one of the biggest reasons is a lack of education. School only teaches us about the mysteries of mummies, the endless elements of the periodic table and the art of algebra.
As great as all of this knowledge is, how likely is it that it’s going to be used on a day-to-day basis by a regular person? We’re left scrambling to breathe like fish taken out of the sea once the real world is given the go-ahead to devour us.
School nurtures us to be book smart but far from street smart. A workshop every once in a while giving students a breakdown of why voting is so important and the core beliefs of each party wouldn’t go amiss.
Many young people who do vote simply conform to the political party of their peers, whether this be family or friends, out of the excitement of just wanting to vote. It becomes a meaningless, ignorant action.
So when I hear propositions to make voting compulsory and punishable if avoided, I struggle to offer my support.
Forcing people to vote will only encourage baseless votes that are rushed in order to avoid consequences rather than votes based on actual informed decisions. It’ll create chaos. Voting would become a chore rather than an empowering luxury.
2017 saw a surprising rise in young voters as “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn!” became the anthem of under 25s. Perhaps all we need to become politically aware in our youth is a larger wave of policies reflecting our needs, as many find Corbyn advocates for.
The youth leading the climate strikes in recent months is another great example that demonstrates how revolutionary we really are when we find an issue that resonates with us.
However, some have questioned why a teenager has been used as a poster child for this cause, labelling her as ‘brainwashed’.
This only proves that no matter what young people do- whether politically active or not, we will always be critiqued regardless.