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Young Voters Say "Our Opinions Do Matter" In 2018 Election

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Judging by the early voting numbers across the country, 2018 may be the year young people turn out for the vote. Nationwide, early voting among ages 18 to 29 nearly tripled since 2014. 

At Binghamton University, students are standing in line to vote at the polling location inside the University Union. For freshman Julia Rakus and Lorin Miller, this is the first election they've been able to cast their ballots in. 

"It's definitely empowering because I feel so many times young people's opinions aren't really considered, but this is a time we can show everyone that our opinions do matter and we can make a difference," says Miller. 

The university's Center for Civic Engagement has helped nearly 3,000 students register to vote or request absentee ballots. In the union, students are casting their vote, then snapping selfies at a patriotic photo booth. Volunteers say there's been a steady stream of voters coming in and out all day. So, what is it that has millennials turning out? Some of those reasons are written on a banner outside the polls. They range from jobs to gun laws. 

"After the shooting, it made me want to even more," says Dalia Mermelstein, a student volunteer working one of the tables. 

The Pittsburgh mass shooting is one of several recent events driving young voters. Also playing a factor is social media and celebrities.

"I was scrolling through Twitter all this week and was so surprised to see all the celebrities telling everybody to go out and vote," says Miller, "I don't remember that really being the case in 2016."

Taylor Swift made headlines back in October after her tweets caused a spike in voter registration among the younger demographic. 

"Personally, Lin Manuel Miranda," says Julia Rakus, "Him, Gino Rodriguez, John Krasinski... They're all like 'go vote, go vote,' and I'm like 'okay.'"

Overall, just the notion that their voices matter and can impact the future is more than enough motivation.

"Not many countries are given this right, so why shouldn't we utilize everything we've been given?" says Rakus.

With the polls open until 9pm, we'll soon see what effect these young voters will have on the outcome of the election.