Charles Reed never questioned the importance of his vote, and now he hopes to convince his fellow millennials to make their voices heard.
For University of Nevada, Reno student Charles Reed, joining the College Republicans was a no-brainer. The 20-year-old dual major in computer engineering and discrete mathematics has been a part of the campus organization for the past two years, following in the footsteps of past family members who were also involved with the group.
“It’s a great opportunity to be with like-minded people and you’re not in an environment where you’re gonna get harassed or insulted for your beliefs. It’s also a great opportunity to learn ideas, meet people, and get involved,” said Reed.
Through the College Republicans, Reed has been able to meet local government officials as well as past Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. He considers voting to be important and plans to cast his ballot in the general election on Nov. 8.
“It’s your opportunity to make your voice known. Sometimes it seems like the government is so far away and so large, but when you really think about it, it’s your voice,” said Reed. “It’s the people’s opinion. If enough people share your opinion, the government literally changes based on how you feel.”
Reed is a millennial, which according to the Pew Research Center is anyone between the ages of 18 and 34. However, his commitment to voting seems to make him an outlier amongst his generation given headlines like “Why don’t millennials vote?” from the Washington Post and “Earning their ‘bad rap’: Majority of young people don’t vote” from Red Alert Politics. Derek Thompson of The Atlantic explores this lack of political involvement in his article, “The Liberal Millennial Revolution”.
“Young people just don’t vote,” writes Thompson. “Between 1964 and 2012, youth voter turnout in presidential elections has fallen below 50 percent, and Baby Boomers now outvote their children’s generation by a stunning 30 percentage points. Millennials might make a lot of noise between presidential elections, but in November, politicians remember what young people are: All throat and no vote.”
Information gathered by The Pew Research Center in their 2014 report “The Party of Nonvoters” shows that nonvoters do tend to be younger as well as more racially diverse and dealing with financial struggles. The report states 34 percent of nonvoters are under the age of 30, which puts them into the millennial category. Only 10 percent are likely to vote.
Reed is no stranger to dealing with the issue of voter apathy. Members of the Young Republicans frequently discuss the lack of voter turn out amongst young people.
“It’s very depressing. I feel like they don’t understand the scope of their actions or the scope of what the vote means,” said Reed. “Some of it is resentment against the system, a lot of people believe the system is very corrupt and the government is just so big they feel it doesn’t really matter what they do. The biggest argument I’ve heard is ‘my vote doesn’t matter’.”
Reed believes education and teaching kids in high school about the importance of voting can be key to encouraging more Millennials to get involved with elections. Through his organization, he has had the opportunity to go to different schools in Washoe County, along with representatives of the Young Democrats, to talk to high school students about getting politically involved.
“If you don’t like them [the candidate], I’m sure there’s one thing you can agree with them on. There’s no reason never not to vote.”