Young voters should focus on local elections during 2016 race

Jacob Rogers

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America needs to undergo a revolution. And please don’t say that in the voice of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The revolution isn’t about electing a president who will stick it to big banks or who will make “America great again.” It’s about citizens of all ages getting involved at their local level. Just think about it. What government exercises the greatest form of control over our daily lives? It’s our local government.

The city of Austin and Travis County make the rules that we notice the most day to day. It’s fairly common for people in Austin to blame the state of Texas government or the United States government for all of the issues. It’s simply not true to blame them all.

Yes, the U.S. Congress and Texas Legislature can mess up big time, either through actions or inactions. And yes, both those levels of government are the only one’s able to control certain aspects of the law and significant issues. But it’s the local city council or board of education that really makes the difference.

In 2014, 40.5 percent of registered voters in Travis County voted, according to the Travis County Clerk’s Office. 265,159 voters out of a possible 655,056 voted. While turnout in 2014 was higher compared to 2010, there is still more work to be done.

It’s fair to say conservatives, liberals and everyone in between are fed up with the way politics works and how both sides can’t do their job and come to an agreement. While you can blame the politician — and certainly most of it deserved — there is some blame to pass on the voters, or those who don’t vote.

Many believe their vote doesn’t matter, so why waste their time at the polling stations. Well, every vote does matter, and it matters more and more at the local level. And if you still don’t think your vote matters, then change it. Do something about it rather than complaining about all of the problems.

A democracy, or a republic as many agree the U.S. is, isn’t supposed to be easy. If you wanted an easy way to change things through a government, then you’d have one party in control making all the decisions. And if you don’t like that decision, then tough luck.

America needs a revolution of ideas and a revolution of the idea of voting. Make voting easier for people through technology. While young people have historically been on the lowside of voter turnout, the problem doesn’t seem to be getting better.

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University said the 2014 elections were the lowest on record for young people 18-29 years old. Just under 20 percent of that population voted. The average was 26.6 percent of the same age group for midterm elections over the past 40 years.

The revolution needs to be the dramatic change in voter turnout, especially among young Americans. It shouldn’t matter if one person supports this candidate or that candidate. What should matter is that everyone’s voice was heard and contributed towards making a difference.