Amanda Pouchot pic
Pouchot in a discussion about women’s health and economic security, hosted by the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, in July 2014.  Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee
Commentary

The untapped voting power of Gen-Y women

Oct 21, 2014

As a quarter of the electorate, single women are critical to November’s midterm elections.

They could decide where control of the Senate lands this year. Or not. They could show up to vote. Or not, which has been their historical pattern in midterm elections.

Millennials are also crucial to this election. In 2012, they helped Obama nudge his way to the top; their votes flipped four key states to his favor—including Florida. By 2016, they’re expected to make up a third of all voters. Like single women, bands of millennials aren’t expected to vote in this year’s midterm elections.

Single, young and female, I sit at the crucial intersection of these very powerful voting groups. And I’m worried about their nonchalant concessions of power.

But my peers remain indifferent. When I ask them why they aren’t voting, I hear a mix of responses: “What good is my vote?” “It’s just one vote.” “I can’t affect change from here.” “I don’t really trust politicians.” “ I don’t really feel confident enough to make an informed decision.” (That last one is certainly more specific to women.)

I undoubtedly believe that my generation and single women care about what’s happening on Capitol Hill. We’re a vocal and caring group—but we utilize channels beyond Washington: We start movements, non-profits and companies (like I did).

But that’s not enough. We should be voting.

Scratch that. We need to be voting.

Our representatives are deciding on policies that will impact our lives. Many young women will one day become working mothers and workplace policies (as well as institutional incentives to better benefits) will shape how they integrate the two roles. My generation carries crippling education debt and how the government handles that will shape our financial futures.

But ultimately, we don’t have a say if we don’t vote.

By voting, we help elect representatives who can actually represent our interests. Of course there’s the common complaint, “What good will my vote do?” But we have power in numbers—if, and only if, we show up to the polls.

Change isn’t always monumental. It can be incremental, such as a single vote. I started reaching out to women in my network, encouraging them to vote this fall. So far, six are newly registered and promise me they will vote.

Though not huge, it's a start—and a simple step toward amplifying my, my generation’s and my gender’s vote.

Amanda Pouchot is a social entrepreneur working on a new venture in the education space. She is the co-founder of Levo League, a professional women's network, launching in its 30th city this fall. Pouchot began her career in the Organization Practice at McKinsey and Company in NYC and currently serves as a Member of the Board of Directors for the UC Berkeley Cal Alumni Association.

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