Of all the problems with the Illinois political system, all the corrupt officials and budgetary woes, few are as concerning as apathy among the state’s youngest voters.
In a census by the federal government of voter turnout rates for the 2012 presidential election, young adults in Illinois turned out at a rate of 43 percent.
While that number is hardly embarrassing—middle of the pack, in fact—enthusiasm within state elections, for both youth and adult voters, is far more dismal.
According to the Red Line Project, voter turnout for primaries and midterms in Illinois have hit historic lows, with only 13 percent of Chicagoans turning out to vote, and only 19 percent downstate and statewide.
While there is currently no data available that breaks those numbers down into age demographics, one can reasonably assume that, based on national election statistics, the youth turnout accounted for a very low amount in this election. With that in mind, we feel it’s important that Eastern students find an outlet through which they can become politically minded, active and involved.
On Wednesday, we reported about a group called NextGen Illinois meeting on Eastern’s campus. Created by the Roosevelt foundation, and with help from Young Invincibles, the group aims to challenge college students to act politically by encouraging their enthusiasm and providing a place for debate and discussion.
At the meeting, we were surprised to hear how few students truly feel their voices heard, how few feel they matter within the corrupt and corroded Illinois legislature system. At this stage, youth voter turnout is vitally important.
Over the last year, we’ve already seen drastic state cuts to the university’s budget, cuts to the state pension system, the pushing-back of the state retirement age, as well as a myriad of other social and economic problems.
Eastern students need to realize how vital they are to that system, how drastic the effects legislative decisions will have on their futures.
We need to not just be involved—we need to be a loud and adamant voice in state politics.
The time to get educated on the coming gubernatorial election is running out, and quickly. Eastern students need to come to terms with that. They need to make a conscious effort to educate themselves. Most importantly they need to act, because the decisions being made in Springfield don’t just affect the over-30 crowd, they affect you, your future.