One week ago, pop sensation Taylor Swift posted a message to her 112 million Instagram followers that endorsed two Democrats running for office and called for her followers to register to vote in the upcoming midterms and actually SHOW UP to the polls. Many were shocked that in this current environment where everything from friendships to relationships to endorsement deals are ending based on where you stand politically, that Taylor Swift would choose to use her voice and influence for political action. Well—whether or not you agree with her politics, her ability to marry social media with social activism worked. Vote.org, the voting registration website Taylor Swift directed her followers to saw a surge of 65,000 people register to vote in a 24-hour period (for context, 56,669 were registered the entire month of August).
While I’m pretty sure Taylor Swift’s post didn’t make my parents more “politically aware” of the importance of the upcoming midterm elections (note to self to ask my parents if they know who Taylor Swift is), clearly there is a whole generation of social media millennials (and Gen-Z) who saw her post and took action. Millennials have the power to be the deciding force in the upcoming midterm elections. This group makes up about 22% of the US population and will soon be the largest living generation. The question is, will millennials actually show up to vote? (insert the I don’ know emoji here).
Well I am no Taylor Swift, but I do want to encourage anyone who is reading this blog to become politically educated (it’s the adult thing to do) and make sure you let your voice be heard in some shape or form on November 6th. In the spirit of providing actionable information (not advice this time), here are 5 ways for millennial action this election year:
- REGISTER TO VOTE. Check to see if you are registered to vote on vote.org or by clicking here. If you are not registered, check here to see if there is still time to register (this varies state to state). For example, in California the deadline is October 22—do not just assume it’s too late.
- VOTE EARLY. Yes, November 6 is election day, but in many states the party is already poppin and you can vote NOW. Also, look at your calendar—are you going to be out in town (I’ll be in South Africa so I am voting this week), stuck in meetings all day, or running to your best friend’s birthday happy hour after work? Basically if there is anything that will deter you from voting on election day (and likely standing in a long ass line), consider voting sooner rather than later. Click here to find out if you can cast your vote early.
- GET INFOMRED. If you want to get more info on the issues, check out the Skimm’s Digital Issues Center, which was created to give millennial voters details on issues and candidates. Don’t be naïve and think that what happens in Congress or even on your local city council doesn’t impact you personally (those little dockless scooters could be gone overnight with a strike of a pen). Also don’t forget, Congress has power over issues such as student loan debt and whether birth control is covered by your insurance company.
- GET INVOLVED. Don’t be discouraged if it’s too late for you to register in your state—still register so you will be ready for the next election. There are also other things you can do- encourage your friends to vote, drive people to the polls, help out with local get the vote out efforts. Check out the opportunities on the Rock The Vote (They need graphic designers, video editors, not to mention traditional phone bankers.) Also, check out Text The Vote—an initiative to send texts to unregistered millennial voters and help them get registered. Lastly, if you swing left or consider yourself progressive, check out The Last Weekend for volunteer activities between now and election day (btw, I’m not trying to be partisan, I just couldn’t find any similar millennial Republican get out the vote websites).
- VOTE. If you don’t live in an early voting state, or you just want the thrill of posting your “I Voted” sticker on IG on election day, don’t wait until November 6 to look up your polling location. Find out now where you have to go, what you need to bring, and block off time on your calendar. Don’t forget to give your boss a heads up that you will be late for work or leaving early. Just don’t talk about it, be about it!