Post-Millennials discuss voting: Are important elections rigged?

By: 
Eleanor Guerrero
CCN Senior Reporter
Thursday, November 1, 2018

Courtesy photos Voting groups defined.

Will young people vote in 2018?

After asking older voters, the highest rate of voters, we asked Millennials, some of whom had decided not to vote this midterm. Now CCN queries Red Lodge High School Seniors in Mr. Kevin Conners’ history class, all Post-Millennials (PM = 18-21) to see what some first time voters thought about voting as well as those shortly approaching voting age. About eighteen students were present. Half a dozen were of voting age. Three or four had already participated in early voting. Media literacy, which they defined as looking broadly at what is reported and not just one news source was also discussed.

All names are omitted. CCN opened the discussion by quoting a Millennial who believes all elections are rigged. 

Why Vote?

Student 1: “I kind of felt the same, as a negative. Votes were rigged, there’s not enough voice. But you probably don’t have a voice because you didn’t vote.”

Being informed is a big issue for her. “You wouldn’t vote if you didn’t know any better. No idea of bills, no idea of issues.” 

Even though she wasn’t up on all the issues she decided to vote.  “I still voted the first time.” 

Why vote? “It would be cool, give it a try, and see what it’s all about. I think it’s very important to vote, and even more to be educated.”

Student 2: “No, they need to be educated. Yes, it helped to have a public education. I had no idea about voting.” 

Student 3: “Most learn about candidates from Mr. Conners. We hear both sides.” 

Student 4: “We watch debates and discuss it. We don’t feel shy.”

Conners said, “I like the joy of going to the ballot. I like Election Day, the process, I like going to the polls.”

They reject campaigning that is “all bad, all negative.” They ignore it or are annoyed by it. 

Student 5: “It’s not how can we get educated. It’s just based it on negative ads at each other.”

Do they think young people should run for office? Almost the whole class said, “Yes!” 

But when asked whether any students intend to run for office someday it was a unanimous “No!”

Student 1 explained: “The reason why is, going in, you are arguing for a living, like being a lawyer. It puts years on people.” In the same breath she added, “I believe public service is really important.”

How does she reconcile the two points? “I do what I can by voting. I keep it local.”

Votes count. “I look at Sanders and Hillary Clinton. It was pretty close. It could have been Bernie. I wasn’t able to vote,” she said regretfully. 

On Having an 

Independent Voice

Student 5: “Parents have a big influence, too. When I went to vote, my dad just watched me, but I know kids (who feel pressured to vote as their parents do). We don’t have it in our own hands.”

Student 6 noted, “That’s only one year (as a senior) and then you’re out of the house,” offering hope to those intimidated by family.

Student 6 challenged students to be independent in the voting booth. “If you vote what your parents want…that’s the point of it, isn’t it? To have your own voice?”

Student 4: “You need to express yourself openly and if masked by what their parents think of them…’

Student 1: “Yes, don’t talk to them (about it). Look past that. With my family, they’re very politically diverse, very democratic. (But) my grandparents’ house and other family members are very right wing and middle of the road.” 

Family conversations “can become very heated.” Her solution? “I think it’s better to listen instead of saying, ‘You’re wrong!’ Don’t think about political differences. I think it’s not reasonable to sever a friendship or a family member. Look beyond that!”

Student 5: “You need someone independent to talk to, not just parents or friends.”

Student 6 shared, “I did an internship (with a political party). I’m very politically oriented.” 

On Big Issues

She sees the important issues for Montanans this year as “the public lands thing, health care.” She said, “My mom benefits from that.” She sees decreasing help with health care.

She canvases support for her candidates by phone but, “I don’t fight.” 

Student 7: “We all want to be Americans. We all are. We all want to get along.” 

On Becoming an Informed Electorate

Student 5: “Right now, our opinions should be seen more; what we care about can be expressed.” 

Student 5: “You have to be willing to learn. Willing to listen to others.” Many thought that was a huge obstacle at this time to coming together.

Student 1: “Reality depends upon what you watch. We learned in Mr. Conner’s class that you can have one story and two different headlines. There are then two different stories. 

Student 2: “You need to read both of them.”

Student 1: “Make up your own mind.”

On Becoming Unified 

as a Country

Student 8: “It’s an era thing. Two dominant parties are really split. We really need to come together and get things done. I don’t know if campaigning and voting will bridge the gap.”

She noted, “After 9/11, we could see how important democracy was.”

Student 1: “It depends upon what they’re saying. It’s not nice calling someone an a---hole.”

Student 5: “It’s important to respect every view. There’s a fine line between being offensive.” 

Student 7: “It’s really hard to have a discussion without things getting offensive! Even in class, you don’t want to say… We all have different political situations but I believe we have the right mindset. We agree on things that should move forward, like health care.”

Student 1: “We just don’t know how to get there. There’s no one provision that helps everyone?”

Student 8 expressed confusion because “if you want to be a citizen, you have to jump through hoops.” How could people “just walk across the border.”

Student 1: “There are moments when we are really close together.” 

Student 5 agreed, “There are times when we have been together. We can come together.”

Does it take a war to make Americans unite?

Student 4: “Something that shows us…”

Student 5: “We’re stuck in our own heads.”

Student 6: “A lot of what parents talk about at the dinner table, that’s not educating yourself.” She felt talking about bi-partisan ways to accomplish things was a good way to start bridging the gap back to being united.

Student 1: “It depends upon whether you choose to tune in and listen.” 

Student 7 mused, “Would it be easier if no such things as Democrats or Republicans?”

Although they were not looking to start the process over and give up on the current ways, some felt it required new leadership on the state level, on the community level. 

Student 7: “That’s why voting is so important for the leadership you want. Let’s vote!” she exclaimed.

What could all students agree on? “Bring back pie to the county office voting site!”

 

Courtesy photos

(Above) Voting groups defined.

 

(Right) Will young people vote in 2018?

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