Ever since I started working for Forward Montana, I’ve tried to encourage my 23 year old brother, Creath, to register to vote. One of my most recent attempts led him to respond, “Voting is just not something I ever think about doing. I don’t ever feel like I make an impact, so I really don’t care. And most of the time I disagree with both candidates that are running so much that I also don’t want to vote for someone whose views oppose mine. So I just don’t vote.”
Additionally, Creath said he felt uninformed which further disillusioned him. I told him I just want him to have a voice in politics and that many young people feel they aren’t educated enough to voice their opinions but that every single citizen should feel their opinions matter and should be heard. He responded saying that he just can’t keep up and ends up getting confused.
After getting a better feel for why he’s never voted, I was even more determined to change his mind. There was a meet and greet with a candidate running for office, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for Creath to see that not all candidates are the same and some really do listen to their constituents. He was very hesitant about going but said he would if I came, too, but assured me he would not be staying long. So I drove the 260 miles to Big Timber, and we went to the event together. I was thrilled to see Creath asking questions, voicing his concerns, and thoughtfully listening. He stayed the full two hours and took extra time at the end to talk one-on-one with the candidate.
Creath later told me that he was so glad he went and that he was finally inspired to vote. “I’ve never been interested in voting until I met an actual candidate who had a casual conversation with me. I’ve always just seen a bunch of advertising for campaigns, and that doesn’t do the trick for me. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t believe something until I experience it.”
The work Forward Montana does, including candidate forums, election watch parties, and partnerships with bands and breweries help make voting a more fun and engaging experience and open the door to a lifetime of engagement. Sometimes all a prospective young voter needs is a little nudge, and here at Forward Montana, we’re great at nudging. (It also doesn’t hurt to have an older sister nudging, as well.)