Some political analysts have generally equated the low turn-out by young voters to a “missed opportunity” on the part of millennials to effect meaningful change in their country’s politics: while the majority of young Americans actually voted for Hillary Clinton, their low turnout was not enough to counter the ballots of older voters. For this reason, researchers are increasingly interested in effective methods of successfully mobilizing young voters. One of America’s top universities (Duke University) is already leading from the front by initiating an innovative project design policy reform with a view to increasing voter turnout among the youth.
Many young Millennials in Kenya today feel disillusioned while cherishing the illusion that their votes don’t count; some even think that voting is a waste of time. But how much more misguided can they be; we all know that every vote counts. President Barack Obama’s historic victory in 2008 is an example of this theory in motion, as his popularity with young voters was one of the key elements of his campaign, giving him an edge over his arch rivals in a number of strategic states. President Obama’s landslide victory in two successive elections is a clear demonstration that young voters can actually tilt the equation in modern political contests and that’s why the youth must be encouraged to vote.
I have no doubt in my mind that the young people of this country have the power to largely sway this forthcoming election if they turn up to vote. The question in the minds of a young person is; “Why should I take the trouble to vote?” The answer is pretty simple, it’s your future which will undeniably be affected by the outcome of this election. It’s an opportunity we’ve all been given a voice in form of a ballot paper and if you don’t get the outcome you wanted because you were too lazy to go out and vote, it’s absolutely your own fault.
As a young voter, today is one of the most important days of your life. Casting the vote provides room for engagement in the political arena. Those who forfeit this inherent right are presumed to have voted indirectly because their vote could have made a difference and the elected leaders serve all. The voice of those of voting age counts in an electoral process whether they directly or indirectly vote. Those who either don’t register or they register and don’t vote more often than not indirectly elect bad leadership.
It is sad that a majority of the youth in this country are largely unaware of this demographic and those who are aware are not saying much either. Most are not bothered by the realization that they are majority with power to change and hold politicians accountable. Therein exists the fallacy that they are alone and cannot impact. They are afraid to take risks and move from the traditional heard.
Ideally, the act of voting was intended to link citizens with their political process. It helps choose our leaders (those who share our views or those who may inspire us). The simple act of marking a ballot tells our leaders what we think about decisions that affect our lives, such as how much taxation we think is fair or what issues such as health care and employment which are most important.
The younger generation of which I am part bears no faith in populism. Many feel that voting for a populist has not resulted in the sort of changes they wanted. Anytime a cause that people believe in becomes popular, the blow from the society tears it at the seams. As a result, young people feel less important. We feel that there is no hope that we could ever organise in a way that would change anything.
The palpable power that we should feel as a major Kenyan youth voting block has been sapped away by both circumstance and design. For politicians, it is a time when the unemployed youth are elevated to greatness and promises of employment and instant disappearance of poverty once their candidate is elected.
We are endowed with one life in this world, and privileged enough to be born citizens of the Republic of Kenya, we should rightfully let our voice be heard – no matter who is listening. Former US President John Quincy Adams rightly observed that “always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost”.
We can’t therefore sit around and later moan about how the older generations robbed us of a future if we, as young people, can’t be bothered to get off WhatsApp and Instagram for two minutes in order to mark an X on six pieces of papers and insert into a box. It’s that simple!
Like many of my generation, I share in the belief of a better tomorrow, a better Kenya, yet to be. As of right, the youth constituency in Kenya is too large to remain on the margins of the democratic process. Therefore, if you are registered, it’s vital that you go to your nearest polling station today and vote.
May God bless Kenya.
Article By: Kibet Kisorio.
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