With all due respect to Farah Stockman (“Activists no more: Young people once led the fight to vote; today they barely cast their ballots,” Op-ed, Nov. 6), my grandmother was a schoolteacher too. And my niece, who also just turned 18, voted for the first time in this election. That’s apparently where our commonalities end.
Unlike Stockman’s interpretation of the data and the direction regarding our youth, I see young people occupying Wall Street, railing against global warming, fighting for gay marriage, and taking on a status quo where the rich get richer and the rest figure out how college debt has skyrocketed over the past decade.
As far as their franchise, young voter turnout surged 9 percent in 2004, an increase three times that of the general population. The youth vote increased again in 2006, growing by 2 million votes. Two years later, the number of voters under 30 who showed up at the polls increased by approximately 11 percent, while the number of older voters who cast a ballot increased by only 3 percent.
If Stockman wants to reference celebrities as youth bellwethers, she could just as easily have noted Lady Gaga, who said, “Democracy is founded on the voice of the people,” as she exhorted young people to vote, or Trey Songz, who held “Gotta Vote” concerts.
Youth activism may not be the novelty it was in the 1960s, but it’s alive and well, kicking and voting.
MassPIRG is a partner in the New Voters Project.