To the editor:I was pleased to read articles online about an increase in youth turnout on February 5 primary day, in some instances a turnout so great that it helped propel Barack Obama to victory in a closely contested Missouri. I read that some states had a quadrupled youth voter turnout compared to four years ago.
As a college student and a Lawrentian, I feel that going to the polls to make our voice heard makes a positive contribution to the whole country. One way we contribute is through our tolerance; young voters are generally more tolerant than older voters. For example, when Wisconsinites in 2006 voted to ban gay marriage, exit polls showed that young people voted overwhelmingly against the amendment while older voters supported it.
Given that the youth vote is usually low, politicians generally ignore our interests and vote for laws that ban stuff we like. If the youth voted as much as the elderly population does, we might have our own counterpart to the AARP, one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington that defends the interests of retirees. With a lobby so powerful, perhaps the national drinking age would be repealed and left to the states like it was before 1984. With a lobby so powerful, perhaps we could relax laws that make using marijuana a worse crime than physical assault.
I encourage my fellow Lawrentians to vote in the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday, Feb. 19. If we keep this “record youth voter turnout” story going, it might force candidates who otherwise would ignore us to reconfigure their message to our advantage.
Stephen Flynn, 2009