Posted on October 18, 2018
Millennials and the Midterms: The Potential Power of the RAE
I’m 25. When I get the question “what do you do?” from people my age, I excitedly explain that I work at a non-profit that focuses on voting. Unfortunately, I hear responses like… voting doesn’t actually matter… there’s too much money influencing elections… the process is too confusing… and, nothing changes anyway, so why vote?
I vote because I genuinely believe that there is NOTHING more important.
The upcoming midterm elections are the most important I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. This is why I’m excited to work at the Voter Participation Center (VPC), a leading organization in deploying voter registration and mobilization efforts directed at the Rising American Electorate (RAE) – unmarried women, people of color and millennials. Since 2003, VPC has registered more than 4,000,000 RAE members and helped to mobilize millions of members of the RAE to fundamentally transform the electorate – making it more reflective of a diverse and changing America.
Millennials are now the largest eligible voting bloc in the country. We have the power to make a fundamental difference in local, state and national offices by electing representatives who reflect the issues we care about, and most importantly, who we are.
We’ve seen the impact millennials and other RAE members can have in victories by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York and Danica Roem in Virginia. However, millennials still don’t turn out to vote respective of their size, which is why we at the VPC have spent the last 15 years fine tuning our data-driven programs to certify each RAE member makes it on the voter rolls and most importantly, turns out at the polls.
I wasn’t surprised when I learned through recent polling that 35 percent of the RAE are projected to sit out the upcoming midterm elections. However, I know the programs VPC runs this cycle will make a substantial difference by allowing underrepresented communities to express their voice in our democracy. It’s pertinent now more than ever for Americans to go vote on Nov. 6, and VPC is working to ensure the highest possible turnout.
Our innovative process and responsive experiments make it clear that we are the most effective voter registration and get out the vote organization in the nation, which means our work can change the composition of the electorate to be reflective of a diverse America. This year, we are running our largest voter mobilization programs in organizational history because we understand what’s at stake this election cycle. Our programs are designed to reach millions of the RAE members across 15 battleground states and 112 of the most competitive congressional districts.
For me, it is an undeniable privilege to go to the ballot box on Nov. 6 and know that my vote will unquestionably choose my representatives. The United States became a leader in world history when we began holding free and independent elections centuries ago. Even today, many countries still do not hold free elections, so their citizens have no voice in their own government. Even here at home, there are terrifying signs of erosion to our democracy. Voter purges, unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and gerrymandering all make it increasingly difficult for underrepresented communities – including millennials – to exercise their right to vote.
That is why it’s important now more than ever for millennials and RAE members to protect their right to vote by performing their civic duty and voting in this year’s midterms. Now when I hear voting doesn’t matter, I can say I vote because there is nothing more important than protecting American democracy.
Carolyn Hennessy is the Special Assistant at the Voter Participation Center, the leading organization working to register and mobilize the Rising American Electorate – unmarried women, people of color and young people. Since 2006, CREDO members have voted to donate nearly $500,000 to the VPC.