The Michigan primary election is August 4th, and registered voters are gearing up to make their voices heard. Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996, are said to be amongst the largest and most diverse group of voters.
According to a 2018 study released by The Brookings Institution, millennials make up 30 percent of voters. Having lived through an economic crash, terrorist attacks and social injustices may be the game-changers for this election period.
While the Michigan primary ballots will differ county-to-county, millennials voice their opinions on candidates and issues important to them. However, some millennial voters remain undecided.
Mariah Andrews, a Wayne county educator, remains unconvinced on Voting in the Michigan primaries.
“I just don’t know if I will be voting. I probably will. It just feels very hopeless. It’s hard even to know if Voting does anything,” Andrews explains.
Identifying with the Independent party, Andrews says access to clear information is one of the reasons she feels unsure.
“It should be easier. There should be sites you can visit,” Andrews urges.
Formerly, political opinions were learned from previous generations, namely Baby Boomers. In the digital age, information has become accessible with the internet. Millennials are using Google and social media to learn about candidates and important issues. Through research and social appeal, they are forming their political stance.
“What bothers me so much is we don’t do a lot of research ourselves. We listen to social media, and we wait to see who people are talking about,” Andrews says.
While some may be on the fence, others are sure they will visit the polls in August. Eva Leon, a business manager in downtown Detroit, says she is voting and will follow the democratic ticket.
“I am and forever will be a democrat. I absolutely plan on Voting because I want to make a difference. Doing nothing will not change anything. You have to be the change and be the voice,” Leon says.
Originally born in northern Iraq, Leon explains why her family moved to the United States.
“I am Chaldean. We had to flee the country when I was about two months old. My mother wanted to make a difference for us, so we came to the USA to live the American Dream,” Leon shares.
During a 2018 study, the American Immigration Council sites roughly seven percent of Michigan’s population are immigrants, and more than half were naturalized, giving them the right to vote in local, state, and presidential elections. For Leon, Voting is something she sees as a privilege.
“Voting is very important for me. It has a very deep-rooted meaning. It’s more than just a ballot and a signature; it is our children’s future,” Leon says.
While politics is a male-dominated arena, men are typically less likely to vote than women. In a Pew Research Center study, women have a slight advantage and vote at a higher rate than men. During the 2018 midterms, millennial women voted in high numbers, but millennial men are not in the background.
Monjui Jones, an audio engineer, and photographer is looking to vote in the Michigan primaries. Also identifying with the Democratic party, Jones says he has always voted and has no plans of stopping.
“I have been voting since I was 18, and I plan to continue as long as I can,” Jones shares.
Born and raised in Detroit, Jones explains what it means to be a Black man voting in this year’s primary election.
“My ethnicity is African American. I grew up in Detroit all my life, and I have seen first-hand how this system has been derailed and left many of its Black citizens on the short end of the stick when it comes to improvements for the city,” he shares.
Along with congressional seats, prosecuting attorneys, and county commissioner seats, many hot button issues are also up for debate. Healthcare, education, and immigration remain topics of discussion during this election period.
“I want people to take education more seriously. We don’t have the resources to get these kids to the next level,” Andrews says.
Like Andrews, Monjui Jones agrees education should be at the forefront, but his concerns extend past the school system.
“The Detroit Public Schools Community District non-Homestead Property Tax Renewal, Proposition O, and Proposition P; those are the three that need to be talked about and need to be voted on for sure.”
For Leon, immigration is an issue that is near and dear to her heart.
“I feel like immigrants are not valued enough. Just like every other citizen in this country, they should be treated with love and respect and equal rights,” she says. “We have the right to live in the land of the free where we can voice our opinions and vote for the right political party that’s going to make our future better.”
Concerns about Voting during a national health crisis are plaguing some. According to Governor Gretchen Whitmer, with fears about social distancing, masks are still highly recommended but not required. Executive Order 2020-153 outlines five instances where masks are not required, and the polls are on the list. Some millennials are looking to submit their ballots through the mail.
“Due to the Coronavirus, I will be voting absentee, but I do not want to. I like the experience going to the polls, and I get a sense of security knowing that I saw my ballot go into the machine,” Jones says.
Regardless of the pandemic, Eva Leon says she is willing to visit the polls in person.
“Despite everything that’s going on, I am willing to vote in person because I want to know in the back of my head that I got up and made a difference,” she explains.
If you have yet to register to vote, it is not too late. The deadline for an absentee ballot via mail has passed, but in-person requests are available until August 3rd. Michigan offers same-day registration. For more information, visit your local clerk’s office.