In 2008, the last U.S. Presidential Election year, voters under 30 formed about 17 percent of the electorate. They cast twice as many ballots for Obama as for John McCain. By contrast, only half of voters over 30 backed the Democratic nominee. It was the biggest generation gap in four decades of modern election polling.
Almost four years later, speculation is rising that stubbornly high unemployment among 20- to 24-year-olds - at 9.3 percent for college graduates and 12.9 percent overall - will cause them to abandon the voting booth in November by simply staying home.
SEIU member, Lyz Martin, 25, sees the trend herself. "Nobody in my generation and circle of friends is doing this yet," she says. By "this" she means devoting the next few months to nothing but working to organize union members, especially those who are younger, to get involved now and up until Election Day. Martin, who works as a dietary aide at Mercy Hospital in the metro region, says what motivated her to become involved as a, "lost timer" to engage in GOTV work this summer/fall is the same thing that motivated her to join the union. "For so long I knew I wanted to be active, but did not know where to begin," she says. "But my union gave me a way to get involved because leadership actually sought me out to engage me. And it mattered to me that they did so because for the first time I felt that being a young, Native American female who is tattooed and opinionated meant I was seen for my opinions and talents and skills that I have to offer."
What does she have to say about news about the potential for a disenfranchised youth voting bloc? "In 2008 we voted and played our part," Martin says. "Then many of us shifted or drifted. But the bottom line is we need to make connections with each other, educate ourselves, move onward and stay involved," she adds.
The main issues Martin is speaking out on are wrapped up in the 99% agenda which includes good jobs now, making the rich and large corporations pay their fair share in taxes, providing critical services for all people, and creating a fair pathway to citizenship for every immigrant worker in America.
SEIU members identify as Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Our focus is on the issues, not on the political party. We are proud to stand with candidates who stand with us.
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