There are a ton of responsibilities that come with young adulthood. From paying bills, to moving out of our parents’ houses, to going to college, to finding love and a career path, it all seems like so much. While all of these are indeed the first steps into that awkward stage of early adulthood, there is one responsibility that often gets overlooked. Voting.

The sad fact of the matter is that our age group (age 18-29) is the least likely to vote. Our participation rates have been slipping for years. Only 21 percent of us voted in 2014. We made up 13 percent of total voters that year, down from 19 percent in 2012. We are also less likely to be registered to vote than other age groups.

But we shouldn’t be.

We should and must embrace voting out of necessity to ensure a better future. As young adults, we have much more at stake with each election than the middle-aged or octogenarians do. Statistically, we’re going to outlive them, so we’re going to have to deal with the consequences of policy for a longer time. Student loan debt is going to affect us more than older Americans. Inaction on climate change is going to have more long-term effects on our lives than our parents’ or grandparents’. Inaction on common-sense gun control reforms will be even more of a problem for our children than our grandparents’ children.

And these are just some of the important issues that are being talked about during this very election cycle. These are the issues that need our involvement. Our ideas. Our solutions. If we don’t engage in these conversations now, when will we? Ask yourself this: Will any of these problems get any better if we sit out of this election? Can we afford to wait until the next election to participate? (Hint: there’s only one right answer).

So, here is what you can do. First, get registered to vote. You can do that multiple places, including the DMV, military requirement offices, and even online. For the digital generation living in Missouri, there is the option of online registration by visiting Secretary of State’s website at and by filling out a short form.

In order to vote in the Missouri presidential primary on March 15, you have to register by Feb. 17. So get registered as soon as possible. Once you’re registered, get informed. Learn everything you can about the issues and candidates. Read and watch the news and follow campaigns on social media. Then, once that is all done, all you have to do is… vote.

It’s that easy. We have the power to shape the outcome of this election year if we choose to participate. If we can look up from our phones and turn off Netflix for just a few moments this year, we can help determine not only the future of this country, but our own futures as well.

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