Rosella Joseph, a film major at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, didn’t vote in the presidential election because she felt like it didn’t matter. This would have been her first time voting. But she had trust issues with both candidates and decided to skip the election.
“If either one of them won, I don’t think that things are going to be that different,” Joseph said.
She’s not alone. Many African-American millennials decided not to take part in the election by not voting or voting third party. Together with the rest of the Obama coalition, they helped depress turnout for Hillary Clinton in the cities, helping cost her Wisconsin and other states. Those interviewed by Media Milwaukee who didn’t vote said they stayed home due to not liking either major party candidate (Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump). They also felt neither candidate really spoke with their interests at heart, and they had trust issues with both of them.
Joseph also questioned how the voting process works. Clinton had won the popular vote, but Trump won the Electoral College.
“She won the popular vote but the electoral voted for him [Trump],” Joseph thought. “My vote probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway.”
Justin Freemon, a major in electrical engineering, didn’t vote in this election because he felt that the system is broken.
“I no longer believe in the democratic process,” said Freemon. “I don’t believe our votes actually count, especially from the perspective of being a black person in America.”
Many people who voted say that they were actually picking the lesser of two evils between the two candidates. But Freemon felt that both were equally evil and both had problems that could not be ignored.
“At the end of the day, they are all politicians,” said Freemon. “As KRS-One said, ‘even if you are voting for the lesser of two evils, you are still voting for evil.’”
Freemon has lost total trust in the system. Upon speaking with him, it seems he may likely never vote in future elections. While many African-American millennials didn’t vote, some did end up voting but were hesitant before going to the polls. Eric Williams, a graduate student, did vote in the election, but he did lean towards not voting.
“Both candidates weren’t qualified to be leaders of the new world,” Williams shared.
He saw problems with both candidate; he saw Trump as racist, and Clinton as not very trustworthy. Despite his feelings, he did vote Democratic.
“I wasn’t voting for Trump,” said Williams. “Me being a black man in America with everything that coincided in the last 400 years, I did not want to give him the reins to try to reincorporate those antics…so I voted Democrat.”
James Cocroft, a major in conservation and environmental science, also voted in the election. He was disappointed to hear some of his friends and classmates didn’t when he did.
“I was really disheartened that I had voted and a lot of people didn’t because I am the last person to vote,” said Cocroft. “You could have changed a lot of the election and a lot of people’s lives.”
Although he had preferred Bernie Sanders over Clinton, he still voted for her. Even though she didn’t win, he won’t let the results ruin his life.
“I was disappointed that the ‘majority’ of America voted for Trump,” Cocroft shared. “I essentially believed that minorities rose to power and our current level of self-understanding through oppression and in spite of oppression so we’ll be okay.”
Both Williams and Cocroft voted and were disappointed that others didn’t follow suit. They say it is your civic duty to vote in every election and get the people who share the same viewpoints into some form of office.
With the election over, some African American millennials may live with regret for the next four years. Some may regret not voting and some may regret voting at all.