Without even realizing it, we are constantly projecting our opinion into the world whenever we click on the “like” button on Facebook or comment on an Instagram post. We have become professionals at typing our views of the world and sharing them with others on different social media outlets, but there is one aspect of inciting change in which young people’s participation is lacking: voting.
In the April 18 special congressional election held in Georgia’s 6th District because Republican Tom Price resigned after his appointment as the Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Trump administration, no candidate got at least 50 percent of the vote. As a result, there will be a runoff election between Republican candidate Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff on June 20.
In the April election, there was a shortage of young people who voted.
According to Sacha Haworth, senior communications advisor for the Jon Ossoff campaign, 3,145 of the district’s 16,745 registered voters under the age of 20 voted in April — that’s 18.8 percent, and the turnout rate for registered voters under the age of 30 was 16.5 percent.
In an effort to inspire more millennials to vote in the upcoming election, Ossoff supporters recently organized a millennial meet and greet at an Ossoff supporter’s home. The goal was to hear from the political candidate himself about why he believes it is important for young people to vote and what some of his plans are if he were to be elected for Congress.
In my interview with Ossoff, he said he believes “young people will be decisive in this election.” He also said this country needs “fresh leadership,” and someone who believes in the importance of “kindness, decency and respect,” which is exactly what he will said he will bring to his role in Congress if elected.
During the meet and greet, which was filled with about 100 millennials ages 13 to 29, Ossoff discussed how it is important for “everyone, no matter what pre-existing condition they have, to have affordable healthcare.”
Britney Kazibwe, a 16-year old teen from Walton High School who attended the event, later said, “I have foster brothers and sisters, and I feel it is so unfair for them to be cast aside just because of their conditions. No parent should have to choose between a kid and bankruptcy.”
Ossoff also emphasized the importance of women to have rights in their community and to “have access to health care wherever and whenever they need it.” Eliza Wilson, another 16-year old from Walton High School also present at the event, said, “This is a divisive time in our country. Young people like us are making history when we are involved in spreading the word about voting.” She also added: “I think millennials should vote for Jon Ossoff because he believes in what our current federal government is not doing.”
“If you vote, you have a voice,” said Merideth Johnson, an 18-year old from the University of West Georgia and another attendee at the event.
Young people are the ones capable of making a change in our country. To be the impetus of the change that our country needs, it is vital for everyone who is of voting age to get out and vote. Even if you are not old enough to vote, it is important to encourage your friends and family who are 18 or older and registered voters to let their voice be heard. No matter who we vote for, our opinions need to be heard in order for change to occur.
While addressing the crowd of Millennials, Jon Ossoff proclaimed that, “When the eyes of the whole country are on us, it is time to see what we can do.” Our democracy and our constitution give us the right to vote. No matter whether you share Ossoff’s views or support another candidate, we need to go out and use the voice we have to make our country a better place.
Rebecca is a rising senior at Milton High School. Photos are courtesy of Andrea Ferrard, who invited Rebecca to this event.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to more clearly show the opinion of the writer.