Coalition Report: Voting Is Vital For Our Democracy


By Laura Lock, Development Director
Missouri Coalition for the Environment

As the November elections quickly approach, many news sources will emphasize the importance of voting. We’ve heard this message repeated many times over the years from countless diverse audiences. Why is this message conveyed to us with so much passion and conviction, over and over again? The number of people eligible to vote that abstain from voting have a lot to do with it.

“Nearly 139 million Americans voted in 2016, according to the United States Elections Project. This sets a new overall record, surpassing the all-time high of 132 million Americans who voted in the 2008 contest between Barack Obama and John McCain.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? But 139 million people only represents approximately 60% of the country’s 232 million eligible voters.

So, who is missing? Census information targets the politically apathetic millennials, whose eligible voters are quickly becoming as large a percentage as the baby boomers. For example, in every presidential election since 1964, young voters between the ages of 18 to 24 have consistently voted at lower rates than all other age groups. In May of 2016, an NPR program highlighted the importance of engaging this audience, and party identification was not part of the strategy. So what should we do to engage this group of young people to get out and vote? Talk more about the issues they care about.

For instance, a 2011 Pew survey found that compared to other generations, Millennials were more supportive of stricter environmental laws, more likely to attribute global warming to human activity, and more likely to favor environmentally-friendly policies.

To add another layer, Massachusetts attorney and campaign manager, Nathaniel Stinnett, noticed something unusual in his voter data. The data was conclusive: many environmentalists don’t vote. Stinnett launched the bipartisan non profit Environmental Voter Project in the fall of 2015 to target this group of non-voters. They target the “already-persuaded super-environmentalists” who are registered to vote, but generally don’t, as Stinnett describes, and “we try to turn them into more consistent voters.”

It appears we can kill two birds with one stone. If you’ve picked up The Healthy Planet, you’re clearly interested and concerned about the environment. Voting your convictions to protect the planet and the health of our communities takes research and commitment on everyone’s part. See our legislative recap at www.moenvironment.org to learn more about the issues facing Missouri.

Now get out and vote this November!
Look for MCE online @moenviron and @moenvironment.