Political activists try to get Millennials interested in election

By Emily Schulz and Jasmine Dobbins
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writers

Between the stresses of school and demands of work, the 2016 presidential election hasn’t been a top priority for Towson University student Amy Wallo.

“I haven’t had time to research either candidate fully, or the other parties,” Wallo said. “I’m really just not into politics, so it just hasn’t interested me either.”

Wallo isn’t alone. In 2012, only 46 percent of  Millennials voted for president, according to a study by Pew research. By contrast, the study found that 60 percent of Gen X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation voted four years ago.

In an attempt to get their peers more excited about voting, young political activists have been trying to change the minds of Millennials and get them to pay more attention to the election campaign.

Josh Korbelak, a student Democrat and political science major at University of Maryland, said Millennials are more willing to complain about the election than vote and do something about it.

Young political activists said many Millennials get their information from social media and other sources that could potentially misinform them.

Towson political science professor Derek Denman said Millennials are more politically active than most people give them credit for.

Denman  said that voter turnout isn’t reflective of the political work the generation has done.

Over the last few years, a large portion of Millennials have contributed to social activism movements, such as Black Lives Matter, nonconformity to gender roles, and  LGBT rights. Their use of social media isn’t only an outlet for complaints, but a platform to get their message out, he said.

According to an article written by Forbes in 2016, two out of three Millennials believed that spreading the word about an issue via social media was more effective than an individual protest.

While Korbelak believes that the lack of information on political policies is what is hindering Millennials from voting, Fred Katana, a Towson student, believes the education provided by university political groups is allowing the  “power of the people” to be restored.

Despite the fact that Katana has also made the decision not to vote, he still believes having student-led political organizations on campus is crucial.

“They’re doing essential work,” Katana said. “Change is thought to be brought upon by legislation, and the welfare of the country rests on the government.”

According to Katana, voting for either candidate solely because they are the “lesser of the two evils” isn’t the right mentality to go to the polls with.

But professor Denman believes there is more to politics than filling out a ballot. “Whether they vote or not, Millennials involved in [social] movements demand a more equitable and freer society, and they deepen democratic culture as a result,” Denman said.

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