I'm Young and I Vote

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As a 27-year-old Millenial and early professional, I know young people are not apathetic. We care about local issues, social issues, the economy, global events, and more. We are, like many others, frustrated with the political status quo. So why is it that fewer than one in four people under the age of 30 vote in midterm elections?

I venture to say that voting is confusing. There are just so many options, issues, and candidates on the table. And it is hard to educate yourself -- it takes forever to read about each candidate or issue. The flyers and mailings we're bombarded with hardly ever contain unbiased information, and the official voter's guide contains over 200 pages -- and that's not counting state-level issues.

Even though I'm planning to vote this year, I'll admit I don't know much about the school board candidates or the water bond proposition, or even exactly how ranked-choice voting works. But I do know that I want a say in who represents me in Washington, D.C. I know who I want as governor. I know I want to help decide whether simple marijuana possession should be a felony or a misdemeanor. Finally, the biggest reason I'm going to the polls: I feel very strongly about the San Francisco soda tax.

We all have our reasons to vote, and we shouldn't let confusion about some issues come across as apathy for other key issues. I used to think I had to vote on every proposition and every open position, but that's just not true. You can leave some parts of the ballot empty and your vote will still count. This year, I'm voting on the issues that matter to me, and I won't stress about the rest.

Election day is just around the corner, and even though the issues on the ballot aren't always straightforward, it's easy to vote on the things and candidates we do feel strongly about. I hope that everyone who hears this piece, especially the young voters, will get out there and vote -- for whatever it is you stand for. Because if apathy wins, we will all be losers.


With a Perspective, I'm Kathleen Li.

Kathleen Li is a fourth year medical student at UCSF.