How Do We Get Young People to Vote?

By Sage Cihak

In a time where political tensions are high and party polarization is so messed up that people find themselves making alternative Thanksgiving plans, one has to focus on the positives. Millennials and young people are being encouraged to vote like never before!  I asked around my college campus and can attribute this to three basic reasons: outrage, social media and guilt. Or maybe more accurately a little bit of all three.

I surveyed a group of the most ideologically juxtaposed people I could put together and asked if they were voting this November in a group messaging app. Since this survey was in no way free of bias, and participants were limited to people I know, I will not bother sharing the numbers. Instead I will say a very large majority said they planned to vote as opposed to not wanting to or not answering. I was pleased by those numbers perhaps more noteworthy were the conversations that followed this poll.

At first students noted their disappointment in their friends who decided not to vote. There was pleading, arguing, articles were shared and memes were sent amongst one another, eventually some students came around, others did not. That pattern is important: disappointment, a turn to online media, response. Many 19 year olds like myself function like that daily. We hear about something, we post about it, others react to it. Political opinions get spread this way all the time and this year has sparked an overwhelmingly large campaign to simply get people to participate. Friends who have described their reasoning for being first time voters have mentioned all the social media that prompted them to do so. They saw viral videos that made them mad at the current state of United States politics, constant reposts with logic for voting that they could not argue against, and they subsequently felt bad that their peers were politically active and they were not.


Short and sweet are the posts we like on our social media, something that can be appreciated and hyped up by others. Things that apply to our sense of civic duty. One of my favorite retweets was a link titled “You have to see why Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson broke up. Read This!” and it was actually a link to register to vote! There were interactive Instagram stories where you could circle your online voting plan in 2 seconds. A Facebook post went viral using a bit of guilt saying how if you’re going to play lottery games you may as well vote, it made sense, that is really all you need.

election plan

While my polling is not statistically accurate – I can tell you this.  You reach my generation in 2 ways – peer pressure and social media. Make your posts short, sweet and to the point – catchy and fun.  We will do the rest. And my hope is that by voting when we are 18 and 19 this will become a habit that we will stick to for the rest of our lives!

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