Why YOUR Vote Could Be The Key To The 2016 Election

The Vote Your Values Room at 29 Rooms
Who’s going to be the next president of the United States? It may be up to you to decide. Our next leader will have to make critical decisions about how to slow down climate change, alleviate global and domestic poverty, and defuse global conflicts. Young people — and especially young women —are one of the biggest and most influential voting blocs for the 2016 race.

Young and first-time voters were an important part of both of President Obama’s victories, but, according to CIRCLE, a nonprofit that analyzes the youth vote, only 19.9% of 18-to-29-year-olds voted in the 2014 elections. That was lower than any election in the past 40 years, and if that happens again, the voters who do show up could have very different priorities.

There are almost 57 million unmarried women eligible to vote in the next election. That’s a huge number, and it could translate to a lot of influence — if we wield it. “Elections are a numbers game, and millennial women have the numbers to impact election outcomes up and down the ballot in 2016,” said Page Gardner, president and founder of Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund. “They have unprecedented power to vote for candidates who share their priorities. But they have to be registered and show up at the polls — and right now, close to 10 million unmarried women under the age of 30 are not registered to vote."

According to surveys by the Center for American Progress, young voters support LGBTQ rights; reforms to the criminal justice system, especially in the case of nonviolent drug crimes; and equal rights for women and nonwhite Americans. According to a survey released in April, more than half of young people consider themselves to be essentially Democratic, while only 35% said they lean Republican.

Gaps emerge as voters get older, but they’re huge when women voters are separated out by race. After the 2014 elections, data showed that 56% of white women voted for Republicans, while 90% of Black women and 67% of Latina women voted for Democrats. Women in general tend to vote for Democrats more than they do for the GOP, but the distance closes among married women.

The last time a Democrat secured a majority of votes from white women was 1996, when Bill Clinton won a second term. Younger women are part of a generation that says it wants to be racially progressive, but that hasn’t moved very far from the attitudes of their parents and grandparents. Younger voters might be inclined toward Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton today, but that won’t necessarily be the case in November 2016.
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The Vote Your Values Room at 29 Rooms
Opinions and political affiliations are polarized between states, between urban and rural areas, and between levels of education, and those divides are starker after redistricting and gerrymandering that rewards extremism and makes it harder to unseat incumbents. It’s easy to get angry about the ugly tone of political debate, or the dysfunction of Congress and state legislatures. But the only way to reverse those trends is to get more involved, not less.

One thing that has become clear since President Obama won the 2008 election is that young people have found countless ways to get involved and make their voices heard. Whether its running for office and voting, or organizing protests against police violence that demand attention from public officials, to imagining new ways to do charity work, there are dedicated women on it.

Refinery29 is turning 10! To celebrate, we're throwing a party called 29Rooms in Brooklyn feature (yep) 29 different rooms. One of those is R29’s early-voting booth — where you can share the issues you care about, your concerns, hopes, and dreams for a better world. Come check it out.
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