Engaging the Polls through Voting and Volunteerism

Jonathan Bogues
To register voters in your community, volunteer with nonpartisan nonprofit organizations.

To register voters in your community, volunteer with nonpartisan nonprofit organizations.

SDI Productions/E+ via GettyImages

Millennials—sometimes fairly and other times unfairly—are generally characterized as being part of an apathetic generation. In recent years, millennials (born 1981–1996) appear uninterested in voting, whether it is showing up to participate in a local or national election. Although millennials make up a sizable portion of the electorate, questions persist as to if they will show up to the polls. 

Why Is It Important to Vote?

Millennials Are a Large Chunk of the Voting Population

In the 2020 election, millennials will comprise about 27 percent of eligible voters.

Every Vote Counts

In the 2000 presidential election, Republican nominee George W. Bush won Florida over Democratic nominee Al Gore by 537 votes out of the six million cast. That is a difference of 0.00895 percent. In 2017 at the state level, control of Virginia’s House of Delegates (and ultimately a shift from Republican to Democratic control) came down to a single vote in one race, which they finally resolved by picking one candidate’s name out of a ceremonial bowl. According to National Public Radio, over the past 20 years, more than a dozen local races across the country have been either decided by a single vote or ended in a tie.

Policy Decisions (e.g., student loan forgiveness and health care) Can Substantially Impact Millennials

According to Forbes, as of Quarter 2 in 2019, borrowers aged 25–34 (a large portion of millennials) held roughly $497.6 billion in outstanding student loan debt for about 15.1 million borrowers.

Voting Is a Civic Duty

All millennials should get involved and vote in not only national elections but also local elections because local elections can have a more significant impact on shaping a community.

How Do You Get Involved in Your Community and the Election Process?

Register to Vote

Check with your state board of elections or local voting authority to ensure that you are registered to vote. The American Bar Association Election Center provides resources on registering to vote, updating voter registration, and locating polling locations. Some states allow you to register to vote online. In contrast, others require you to register to vote in-person at a state or local election office, the department of motor vehicles, or another government building. Further, please ensure you meet your state’s voting requirements. For instance, North Carolina has considered requiring photo identification for the 2020 election—joining other states that have already implemented this requirement. Be sure to read up on all voting requirements before election day. Another useful resource for checking voter registration rules, voting deadlines, your voter registration status, absentee ballot rules and deadlines, voter ID laws, early voting deadlines, and polling place locators is vote.org.

Become an Active Volunteer within Your Community

To register voters in your community, volunteer with nonpartisan nonprofit organizations like Rock The Vote, HeadCount, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). You can also volunteer to be an election inspector or poll worker at your local polling sites to ensure proper and orderly voting occurs at polling stations. Contact your local government office to volunteer to be a poll worker or find more information at the US Election Assistance Commission’s website. Check with your local bar association to see if it organizes voter registration programs or volunteer opportunities associated with elections.

Red or blue. Liberal or conservative. It does not matter. What truly matters is doing your civic duty and showing up to vote.

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Jonathan Bogues is a member of the ABA Young Lawyers Division’s Civic Engagement Team. He is also an associate with Moore & Alphin, PLLC, in Raleigh, North Carolina.