Calling all millennials: It’s your turn to vote

Time to set the record straight – millennials do vote. While 18- to 29-year-olds don’t vote as much as those 30 years and up, a glimpse into the last few election cycles points out the youth vote did increase in 2004 and again in 2008.

And from 2008 to 2012, the share of young voters making up the electorate once again increased.

Make no mistake about it: voter registration and turnout among the millennial generation needs to be improved in Arizona. On National Voter Registration Day and the days leading up to the voter registration deadline, we will ramp up our ongoing efforts to reach and encourage millennials to register-and-vote.

Millennials often cite the absence of unbiased information and a lack of candidates talking about issues that matter to them among the top reasons why they don’t vote.

To provide unbiased election information, the Office of the Secretary of State created Arizona.Vote. Recognizing that most millennials (and many Arizonans) turn to technology on a daily basis, Arizona.Vote continues to evolve as a one-stop shop where eligible Arizonans can register-to-vote online; learn about candidates for U.S. president, members of Congress and local officials; as well as read about the pros and cons of propositions on our ballot.

In order for candidates to address issues that matter to millennials, the 18- to 29-year-old population needs to better flex its political muscle. The Arizona PIRG Education Fund and organizations across the state are working with members of our state’s universities and community colleges to provide opportunities for young adults to register-and-vote. Efforts underway emphasize peer-to-peer communication, which research highlights as among the most successful techniques to encourage millennials to register -and-vote. Combining these efforts with the Sec. of State’s Voting Rights Ambassadors who have conducted mock elections in high schools and in local communities, more than ever before young adults in our state are likely to be asked to register to vote and provided with tools to make informed decisions.

From our perspectives, there are a number of reasons the youth vote is important.

1. In the last presidential election, an estimated 38 of 18- to 29-year-olds in Arizona voted compared to 61 percent for ages 30 and up. Clearly, there is work to be done across the board.

2. According to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement, 990,000 millennials in Arizona are eligible to vote. Clearly, there is a significant opportunity to improve the number of 18- to 29-year-olds voting.

3. Voting is a habit that leads to increased civic engagement. Research has pointed out that those voting young are likely to continue to vote. Clearly, the earlier citizens vote, the more likely they are to stay engaged in our democracy.

Whether you are a millennial or you passed that age category a while ago, if you haven’t registered to vote or you need to re-register to vote, National Voter Registration Day is a good reminder. Here in Arizona, you can go to Arizona.Vote to register online or you can call 1-877-the-vote to find the nearest opportunity to register in person.

After you register, go to Arizona.Vote to learn more about the upcoming election. And please, remember to vote.

Michele Reagan
Arizona secretary of state

Diane E. Brown
Executive director
Arizona PIRG Education Fund

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