Tuesday was the deadline for voter registration in the state of Georgia. In the past week, you may have seen your Instagram feed, Facebook timeline or Snapchat stories flooded with reminders to register to vote. It seems that the push for voter registration is far stronger than ever before. Everyone from political representatives to celebrities, social media icons and the general public are taking part in this wave of advocacy. National retail chains have even gotten behind the trend, with Walmart and Tyson committing to Time to Vote, an initiative allowing employees the time off to go and vote.
Why the sudden push for registration, though?
In 2016, only 56 percent of the age-eligible voting population in the U.S. actually voted in the presidential election, putting the U.S. behind other developed countries including Canada, who had a 62 percent turnout, according to the Pew Research Center.
With constant scrutiny of the state of our presidency, scandal in senate nominations and debate over gun restrictions, to name a few common complaints about our political system, it is reasonable to assume that this push to ensure everyone who can vote will show up. With nearly 60 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 responding negatively to the Trump administration, according to the Pew Research Center, it’s obvious that millennials are seeking to alter our political representation and reputation.
Millennials have become targets of social media political campaigns, being the generation who use social media the most. It seems as though celebrities are expected to share their political ideals through an Instagram post or story. Jimmy Kimmel was trending in 2017 after dedicating a portion of his show to discussing healthcare policies, a monologue which faced backlash from right-wing politicians discrediting Kimmel’s knowledge on public policy because of his status as a talk-show host. Recently, Taylor Swift posted her political beliefs via Instagram, breaking her silence on politics and advocating for the importance of being knowledgeable on candidates.
Taylor Swift’s post caused a spike in voter registration. Kamari Gutherie, director of communication for vote.org, told Buzzfeed News, “We are up to 65,000 registrations in a single 24-hour period since T. Swift’s post. Thank God for Taylor Swift.” How can a musical artist like Taylor Swift have such political persuasion? Our generation’s relationship with celebrities is unlike any other. Celebrities, specifically those that are regularly active on social media, are viewed as much more accessible and relatable.
With constant exposure to social media, the curtain between us and them seems a bit thinner. The one-way communication of television is no more, with celebrities in constant communication with fans via their social media platforms, the once unapproachable celebrity seems much more authentic. As social media “influencers,” celebrities are using their platforms to voice their opinions on social issues and become political advocates themselves.
A benefit to this is the use of these platforms to spread awareness for the importance of voting. Millennials pay attention to the words and actions of the famous. Knowing this, stars have been some of the loudest voices behind the push for voter registration.
As of April 2018, Millennials, Gen X-ers and “post-millennials,” made up 59 percent of the population of adults who were eligible to vote, according to Pew Research. With those numbers, a strong turnout almost guarantees the change we need.
Yes, it may seem odd that your favorite actor is hosting an Instagram live to talk about voting, or late-night talk show hosts are dedicating segments of their comical shows to discuss politics. But, take their advice.
If you’re registered, make sure you educate yourself on the candidates running. Being informed is as important as showing up. Then, when it’s time to cast your ballot, do so. Make sure to get your absentee ballot if needed and get to the polls. Let’s make this election season record-breaking for our participation as millennials.
The Carrier’s editorial opinion represents the views of the senior members of the Campus Carrier and Viking Fusion news staff.