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Exercise Your Right to Vote or Waive Your Right to Complain By Zakarij Laux

Posted on October 29, 2018 in

A polling Station Sign with an arrow pointing to the rightThe title of this post is a phrase I first heard years ago from my choir director, who had a penchant for discussing politics during rehearsal breaks. The phrase has stuck with me, although I’ll admit for the record that I’ve used the word “complain” as a euphemism here. It’s a poignant reminder of how important it is for us all to exercise our right to vote, especially now, in an age where everyone has an opinion and a digital soapbox from which to voice it.

I recently learned that, according to census data, millennials and baby boomers now both comprise approximately 31%, each, of the overall electorate. In case you’re wondering, Gen X makes up 25% of it and adults 71 and older make up the remaining 12%.

But these figures only represent the potential electorate, based solely on the breakdown of ages in our population. In reality, a recent poll shows that only 28% of millennials say they will “absolutely” vote in the midterms on November 6. For those who struggle with math, that’s 28% of our 31% share of the pie-about 9%. These dismal numbers mean millennials are not taking advantage of their political weight as nearly one-third of the voting-age population. Not only is this a shame, it’s also highly ironic given the strong opinions we millennials are known to express and the myriad of social media outlets at our fingertips to do so.

My fellow millennials: as shocking as it may sound, sharing political memes on Insta is not the equivalent of filling out a ballot. While they may be funny, cautionary, motivating, or passionate, if you don’t vote, you’re not doing your part to make the change you want to see.

“But Zak, my representatives don’t care about the issues that are important to me, so what difference does it make whether I vote?”

That may very well be true, but have you ever stopped to think why your representatives don’t speak to the issues you’re passionate about? It’s because they know you don’t vote! The numbers are publicly available and they don’t lie–your elected officials don’t need to rally behind your causes because doing so doesn’t keep them in power. It’s a vicious cycle: your elected officials don’t speak to your interests because you don’t show up to vote; you don’t show up to vote because your elected officials don’t speak to your interests. This proverbial game of chicken can only be won by a higher millennial turnout at the polls because politicians otherwise have no incentive to disturb the status quo.

Whether you’re thrilled or appalled by the direction this country is headed, the only way you can expect to have any effect on its trajectory is by voting. You’re not changing any minds on social media; I guarantee your friends (or frenemies) who don’t share your political views have already unfollowed you there.

PSA: early voting in Miami-Dade began on October 22 and will continue through November 4. You can vote at any designated early voting location up to and including November 4. On Election Day (second reminder: that’s Tuesday, November 6), you must vote at your assigned precinct. For a list of early voting locations and updated wait times, visit: https://www8.miamidade.gov/elections/wait-times.asp.

And millennials, if you don’t vote in this cycle, please do us all a favor. Delete all your social media accounts and have a seat when it comes time to otherwise express your views on what’s wrong with this country.

About the Author: Zakarij Laux concentrates his practice in bankruptcy and restructuring, workouts, creditors’ rights, and complex business litigation. Zak has represented national lending institutions and loan servicers, commercial landlords, receivers, creditor committees, debtors, and bankruptcy trustees at the trial and appellate levels and through post-judgment execution.

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