OPINION: 2018 is the year voting became cool

Ian Boyd (left), junior in political science, talks with Shelby Hay, senior in art, in the Student Union on Nov. 2. As members of the Kansas State Young Democrats, they were tabling to help inform students of where to vote. (File photo by Rowan Jones | Collegian Media Group)

Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. I opened Instagram and scrolled through stories from my friends. Story after story reminded me and all other Instagram viewers to “Go vote! Remember to go to the polls!” Some even offered rides to polling locations.

Snapchat was the same way; I couldn’t view a snap that didn’t have the voting filter.

Now, it could be that I follow a crowd that is disproportionately politically involved. Maybe all my friends are more serious about their civic duty than the general public. But to me, this seemed like a wave of interest in voting from a crowd that had never professed an interest in politics before.

Nov. 6 rolled around, and I was again bombarded with story after story and post after post of people proudly displaying their “I Voted” stickers and reminding people of the closing times of polls.

And this time, it extended beyond just the friends that I followed — celebrities, models and “Insta-famous” people were also talking about this year’s midterm elections.

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, or CIRCLE, reported that 31 percent of millennials voted in this year’s midterm election, a 10 percent increase from the 2014 midterm. Why are so many more young people voting?

I don’t know the full answer to this question. It could be that everyone is paying attention to the issues.

It could be that increased social media usage has made young adults aware of the goings-on of America. It could be another reason entirely, but no matter the underlying reason, one thing holds true: voting is cool.

It has moved past something that only people who have time or interest or expertise in politics participate in.

And this trend hasn’t come a moment too soon — young Americans have realized that the ballot box is powerful.

Many races across the country were too close to call at the end of the day last Tuesday. Several state legislature races in Kansas were separated by only a few hundred votes.

Our votes do matter. Let’s keep this up.

Olivia Rogers is a community editor for the Collegian, the secretary of the College Republicans at Kansas State and a junior in political science. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

I’m Olivia Rogers. I graduated with dual degrees in philosophy and political science in May 2020. After I graduated, I went on to attend law school at Notre Dame. While at the Collegian, I served as the community editor for several semesters, working to share the opinions of the K-State student body. I write because: “Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.”― Madeleine L'Engle