Does Your Political Party Registration Matter? For These 4 Millennials, It Was A Big Deal
With the November midterm elections quickly coming to their finale, people all over the nation are speaking out about how much impact this election cycle could have on the country. Although political party affiliation may not impact the voting process in this month's general election, it still carries some major weight — both politically and emotionally. These millennials who changed their political party told Elite Daily why they cared and why it was so important to them to have their name registered with one party or another. Whether you identify with the Republican, Democrat, Independent, or another political party, your vote matters.
Heat between Democrats and Republican may have begun as a type of sibling rivalry, but in recent years tensions have been building. Currently, the Republican Party holds the majority in both chambers of Congress, but that hasn't stopped Democrats from standing up to try and convince voters that change needs to take place. In 2018 which party you're registered with can feel like a dramatic commitment, even though it doesn't affect who you can vote for in a general election.
Like anything, political ideals, opinions, and circumstances can change a lot over time. From the 2016 presidential election to the November midterms, these four millennials told Elite Daily about changing their registered political party and why they did it.
Submissions have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Originally registered as an Independent, Veronica says she planned to change her affiliation to Democrat a while ago, but the upcoming midterm elections was the push she needed to take a step back and evaluate which political party aligned with her views. When she first registered at 18 she may not have been as immersed in the democratic process, but a few years down the road she's ready to speak out. Veronica says,
I changed my voter registration about a month ago in preparation for the upcoming midterm elections. I was originally registered as Independent and changed it to Democrat... Honestly it was just something I had been wanting to do for a while, and making sure my voter registration information was good to go online was a good moment to do it because I was on the site anyway... I feel like my principles and values align with the Democratic party's, and this way I can vote in the primary elections in two years. When I first registered to vote at 18 I didn't really feel as strongly about my Democratic values, so I figured registering as Independent would allow me to sort of vote either way without guilt. Now that I know myself and what I stand for better, I'm proud to be a registered Dem!
The primaries are a major factor in prompting people to switch things up, and it's easy to see why — in certain states, like New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania, party primaries are closed, meaning that if you're not a registered party member you might not be able to vote to see the candidate of your choice on the ballot. For G., that was exactly what happened — and, he says, it was seeing Hillary Clinton win the 2016 Democratic primary in the presidential race that prompted him to officially join the Democratic party.
I had originally registered as an Independent because I wanted to remain open to different viewpoints and opinions. I switched to being registered as a Democrat because I think it is the party more closely aligned with my views and I want to have a say in guiding it in the direction I believe is right. ... It's become apparent to me that in this current system the only way to get a candidate that you believe in in the general election is through the primaries. While third party candidates are an option, the system seems built against them.
For Michael, being involved in the voting process has been a part of his life for years, and something he's always been passionate about. At the older end of the millennial scale, he's had time to re-evaluate his voting a few times: at 20, he originally registered as a Democrat, but re-registered as an Independent once making the move to New York. However, once realizing that the state had strict rules surrounding party affiliation and the primaries, he made the move back to Democrat following the 2018 primaries, ahead of the general election. Michael says,
I registered as a voter in New Jersey for the presidential election of 2004 and in time to become the John Kerry campus coordinator for my college. I was 20 years old at the time and I hadn't voted for any election before that and, when I registered, I jumped straight into the Democratic party... When I moved to New York City three years ago, I decided to sign up as an Independent. I felt like I would be polled more and I wouldn't get as many calls from Democrats asking for money that I didn't have. Neither happened and then I found out that New York had a closed primary with strict rules on party registration. ... Changing voting registration is important because it allows me to vote in the New York primary. Honestly, if it wasn't for that I'd stay registered as an Independent.
And for some people, it was all about the issues. Kevin was a Republican who supported Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election, but, he says, he found himself slowly getting turned off by the party's stance on things like immigration and cultural issues. "My hope was the party would focus more on fiscal/small government issues and become a little more cosmopolitan. As it turned out, cultural issues were the core of the party all along," he says, citing issues like the pushback against accepting Syrian refugees and what he calls the "demonization" of Black Lives Matter. The election of Donald Trump, he says, was his last straw.
Trump took it to the next level. Despite the fact that Trump was clearly unfit for office, 90 percent of Republican voters couldn’t stomach Hillary Clinton and fell in line. Everything I hated about Trump, other Republicans seemed to tolerate it or worse, resonated with it. Shortly after the inauguration, I registered as a Democrat. It was important because I had been a Republican my whole life and now, I had come to this conclusion that I was far more comfortable as a Democrat. Yes I could just vote for individual candidates from both parties that I like but really, our political system is a binary choice between the two parties. A vote for any individual candidate is more or less a vote for the party’s whole agenda. that’s why I can’t bring myself to vote for another Republican again.
Whatever party you're registered with and whoever you intend to vote for, the important thing is that you get out and make your voice heard. Happy voting, everyone!