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The millennial electorate



University of Virginia


The millennial electorate

U.Va students and young Charlottesville residents got out the vote.

Jordan Simpson


After months of canvassing and tabling by our diligent peers asking for five minutes of our time while passing clipboards our way, the gubernatorial election is over, and the voter registration frenzy has drawn to a close. Whether you are a member of UDems, College Republicans, the No Labels Political Club, any other political organization on grounds, or have no membership in one at all: hey U.Va, we got out the vote!

According to the Virginia Department of Elections, the city of Charlottesville saw an upwards of 28,000 active voters during the 2016 presidential election, out of the nearly 32,000 registered within the city. Given that gubernatorial, and other smaller elections that are not nationally based typically receive lower levels of voter turnout, statistics show that Charlottesville still went out and voted. During the month of September, the city saw a net new voter gain of 265 people, and during October it saw an even greater net gain of 488 new voters.

By the end of the month of October, Charlottesville saw a total of 22,000 registered voters, nearly half of those voters (approximately 11,000) being under the age of 25! As seen in the table below, voters at Johnson, Buford, Alumni Hall, and Recreation (the various polling locations for on-grounds residences), proved to have extremely high levels of turnout—in other words, we know 'hoo' went out to vote!

If in any case you missed the results of the election altogether, here's a quick run through of how it all went down. After the primary elections which took place in June of this year, Dr. Ralph Northam secured the Democratic nomination, Ed Gillespie was the Republican nomination, and Clifford Hyra was the Libertarian Party nominee (chosen earlier in May). At the end of election day, a rainy day for us in the 'Ville, Dr. Ralph Northam (pictured below on the right with some of our fellow Hoos) won nearly 54% of the vote, making him the 73rd governor of Virginia. In fact, it was a clean sweep for the Virginia Democrats, with Northam's running mates' Justin Fairfax elected as Lieutenant Governor, and incumbent Mark Herring reelected as Attorney General.

And if you're curious about how Charlottesville voted, nearly 85% of the city's votes went to Northam, with Gillespie grasping around 14%, and Hyra obtaining around 1% of the vote (write ins taking the rest). According to this graphic, it is evident that similar to areas in northern Virginia, Richmond, and Norfolk, Charlottesville votes reflected a sizable lead for Northam in comparison to Gillespie. Significantly, these four major areas were the ones most densely populated by Democratic voters, and the areas that cast the greatest number of votes within the state.

So, let's bring this back to millennials and voting. We've all heard time and time again from our parents, peers, and other "sage" strangers that we should go vote. Our history classes ingrained in our brains that the 15th, 19th, and 16th Amendments were not for nothing. We tuned in to the news post-general election and heard the illustrious proposition of, "What if all millennials voted this go around?" Sure, these things may get a bit annoying, but they're important things to hear. It's projected that in 2018, millennials will pass baby boomers, becoming the largest generation of voting-eligible Americans! This may not seem like all that big of deal, but it means that we no longer can cry that our politically questionable uncle's generation has the most say in how our elections go. It also means that we can no longer claim that our votes don't really matter, because they do!

I can't critique our student body too much on not voting, because quite frankly, we showed up to polls! However, there's still room to grow. Encourage your siblings and friends or your classmates to register to vote (it's super easy, click here), educate themselves on candidate's platforms and to follow through next time election day rolls around by casting a ballot. I'll try to refrain from being too preachy about this because we all know the drill. So, for all you U.Va students who voted, next time you get the "Did you vote?" lecture from someone, let them know you did, and that us Hoos did a damn good job of it too!