Home / Articles / Commentary / Guest Opinion / Young women, grab the power. Vote.
Print this Article
Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 05:38 pm

Young women, grab the power. Vote.

As a college sophomore and college professor, we often talk with young women about national politics. Too frequently, we hear them say that politics is too intimidating and complex to understand or too messy to want to get involved in. Not only do these young women choose to look the other way, but by saying they can’t understand the issues they also sell themselves short. Too many of them allow fears and self-doubt to stop them from voting.

We can sympathize with these young women. Determining a future president or congressional representative certainly can be intimidating. But making the conscious decision not to vote is a choice that disregards the strong and intelligent women before us who fought long and hard for the right to vote, and it’s a choice that sends a message of indifference to women of future generations.

This year, young women of the millennial generation – those between 18 and 31 – are pivotal to key issues such as reproductive rights, college affordability and equal pay. They are also a group that loves to communicate through technology. Using Facebook, Twitter and text messages, they are comfortable publicly worrying and complaining about political issues. But they often overlook the fact that the simplest and most empowering way for women to take action is to vote.

Historically, young women are the demographic group least likely to vote. Although the numbers of millennial women voting surged to 51 percent in the 2008 presidential election, those numbers dropped off to 20 percent in midterm elections, and a recent study by the Pew Research Center found that only 13 percent of millennials are thinking hard about their voting options this year.

Why are young women reluctant to vote? The most common reason we hear is that they don’t know enough about the issues. But few voters know everything about every issue, and these women need to stop downplaying their opinions and recognize that they are capable of becoming informed. One strategy for doing so is to choose three issues that matter and then find out where the candidates stand on those issues by investigating their websites and using nonpartisan resources like The American Association of University Women’s Voter Education Guides.

For instance, here are some questions to ask on three key issues:

Reproductive rights: Does the candidate wish to expand, maintain or reduce access to abortion? Does the candidate endorse or oppose a reduction in funding for Title X family-planning programs?

Student loans: Does the candidate want to maintain or cut funding for student loan forgiveness programs or Pell Grants? Does the candidate support President Obama’s “Pay As You Earn” program that ties loan payments to income?

Equal pay: Does the candidate support or oppose the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and bar retaliation against workers who disclose their own wages to coworkers?

Ignoring this fall’s election still counts as doing something: Elected officials get their positions as the result of our votes and nonvotes.  We’re at a crucial time in our country. It’s not the time to step back and do nothing, and it’s not the time to hide behind Facebook rants. Let’s empower ourselves by voting. Lili Huerta, a 27-year-old sociology major at DePaul University and mother of two, sums up this sentiment succinctly: “We can complain until we’re blue in the face, but it’s all pointless if we don’t organize and vote!”

Carli Alvarado of Chicago is a sophomore majoring in education at Monmouth College. Erika Solberg of Monmouth is an adjunct professor of English at Monmouth College and a member of the American Association of University Women. American Forum.
Log in to use your Facebook account with

Login With Facebook Account

Recent Activity on IllinoisTimes


  • Thu
  • Fri
  • Sat
  • Sun
  • Mon
  • Tue
  • Wed