People – both politicians running for office and curious bystanders – ask me about the connection between young people and voting. I assume this is because I am one of the few publicly visible millennials in Maine. (Guys, we’re demographically withering, somebody please have some babies.)

Now, I’m a politician’s dream or nightmare voter, because I vote in every election. And I mean every single one – the general, the midterms, the primaries, the special elections, even the Buxton town elections in June that only the retirees go to.

People seeking the Youth Vote have to achieve two things: You have to get the young people to want to vote for you, and you have to actually get them to the polls and into a booth.

Young people are as diverse in their ways of thinking as older people (really!), but there are a few overarching policies you want to pay attention to if you want us to vote for you.

Student loan debt, for example – the HPV of the financial world. Most of us have it or will have it at some point, and while it might not ruin all of our lives, it’s still definitely a problem. If you have a plan to solve our debts on either a micro or macro scale, we would like to hear it.

Young people are more likely to care about climate change and disruption, because, unlike the baby boomers, we’ll still be here in 30 years. (Not to say that some of you guys won’t be here in 30 years, but, again, demographics).


Everyone knows that political ads (TV, radio and internet) are, generally speaking, more than 90 percent cow dung, and fakeness and phoniness bother us. The only political ad I have actually enjoyed seeing – ever – was the one with Mark Eves reading mean tweets about himself aloud. If you’re a candidate, be yourself. Be humble. We can tell.

Now, getting voters to the polls – that can be the tough part. For one thing, voting needs to be easier. Election Day needs to be, if not a federal holiday, then at least a state holiday in Maine. (Hey, legislators, want to get going on that?)

Registration should be automatic. The government knows who is 18 and who is a citizen – there’s no reason that they can’t use a computer program to put those two things together and be aware of who is and isn’t eligible to vote. Come on. It’s 2018.

I also recommend looking to the past for inspiration. In the Colonial days, women would bake huge spice cakes and bring them to polling places to entice the men to come vote (because, of course, only white men could vote in those days). Fortunately, we now live in a world where women can vote and men can bake, but food is still a very good motivator, especially for hungry young people. If you have a youth in your life that you want to cast a ballot, ask them to go to Starbucks with you. Then, once you have them in your car, just say that you need to make one quick stop first and take them to their local polling place!

But the biggest reason that I vote as consistently and enthusiastically as I do is that I was brought up that way. My parents took me and my siblings to the Buxton Town Hall with them for all the elections. Election Day meant the town clerks gave us candy and told us how big we’d gotten. Then we would go behind the striped red, white and blue curtain with Mom or Dad and stand on our tiptoes to see the ballot (I was hip-high until I was in sixth grade and haven’t gotten much more vertical since). My parents would mark their circles and whisper quietly, reminding one another about each candidate or bond measure and whether or not they were voting for them.

If you want young people to vote, you have to raise them that way. So if you’re asking your local millennial how to get her age group to the polls, it’s already too late.


Note to readers: I just checked the dates and I have been writing this column for over a year now! It may be one of the most exciting anniversaries I have ever had. This column has been a bright light and a stabilizing force for me throughout this fairly rough year. And thanks in part to letters I have received from encouraging, understanding readers, I am sitting pretty on top of 4½ months of sobriety.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:

Twitter: @mainemillennial

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