Young voters just might be the most powerful force in the 2016 presidential election. Here’s the math: According to the Census, there are 75.4 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 35, making millennials the largest living generation in the United States—bigger even than the baby boomers (ages 51 to 69) who currently dominate American politics. But size aside, generational voting power comes down to who’s eligible to vote and who turns out—and that’s where we have work to do.
While millennials may be the largest generation in terms of population, baby boomers match us in terms of eligible voters, with each generation containing roughly 70 million people who can legally cast ballots. Our generation’s potential will only become real political dominance if we register to vote, and then make it to the polls on Election Day.
But that’s the tricky part, because make no mistake about it: They don’t want you to vote. 34 of our 50 states have voter ID laws on the books that make it harder for young people and people of color to vote. The vast majority of these laws were enacted in response to the 2008 presidential election, when a record turnout of young, black and Latino voters sent Barack Obama to the White House. Some officials behind the laws have even made it clear that depressed turnout was the reason they were drafted in the first place.
So, whether you're with Her, voting third party, or want to make America great again, show up to the voting booth November 8 and make your voice heard. In the meantime, here’s your complete guide to surviving the most grueling, never-ending, unbearable election in recent memory—and any attempts to keep you from voting in it.
Party: Republican—this time, at least. He’s switched parties five times since 1987, and was a registered Democrat as recently as 2009.
Hometown: Manhattan, where Trump has nearly 40 (!) private apartments.
Résumé: Real-estate developer, reality TV star, purveyor of mediocre steaks and wine.
Cosigned by: Aaron Carter, David Duke, Kid Rock, Mike Tyson, Azealia Banks, Dennis Rodman, Tila Tequila, Sarah Palin
Vice president: Mike Pence, who you may know as the guy Miley Cyrus called an asshole for his religious freedom bill that enabled discrimination against LGBT people.
Future first lady: Melania “Word Is Bond” Trump
For kicks: Golf, watches Citizen Kane, files for bankruptcy, retweets white supremacists.
Best thing about his candidacy: Bernie Sanders initially made anti-worker international trade agreements (like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, some would say) a hot topic, and then Trump, surprisingly, broke with Republican free-trade orthodoxy and came out against them as well. (Then again, experts say the tariffs against China and others he’s proposing instead would be an economic disaster.)
Worst thing about his candidacy: Literally everything else. Lazy answer? OK, fine. Let’s pinpoint this one: Clinton was right about that “basket of deplorables.” Trump has given a mainstream voice to racism, sexism and xenophobia—and inspired hate crimes across the country. He recently hired Steve Bannon, executive chairman of Alt-Right favorite Breitbart News, to run his campaign.
In his words: "Part of the beauty of me is that I am very rich."
Biggest fail: Too many to choose. This is a guy who launched his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants rapists.
Worst pander: Swaying offbeat next to Omarosa at a black church in Detroit.
Does he want you to vote? Probably not. Clinton is dominating Trump among younger voters and voters of color, both of whom have been disproportionately affected by recent laws restricting voting access.
Hometown: Chappaqua, New York
Résumé: New York Senator, Secretary of State, First Lady, lawyer, children’s advocate.
Cosigned by: Barack Obama, Meryl Streep, Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, Magic Johnson, Pharrell Williams
Vice president: Tim Kaine, who speaks Spanish fluently, plays the harmonica, and has been the source of countless cool-dad jokes.
Future first dude: Bill Clinton
For kicks: Does crossword puzzles, gardens, dabs, deletes emails.
Best thing about her candidacy: Obama said it, and it’s probably true: She may be the most experienced presidential candidate ever.
Worst thing about her candidacy: A lack of transparency. Scandal seems to follow Clinton everywhere—even though in every case, she’s more or less exonerated. One reason is that she’s notoriously opaque when it comes to her governmental work and personal life, which has let conspiracy mongers fill in the blanks and left her constantly on the defensive. There’s little reason to believe that will change when she’s in the White House. (Although it’s important to point out that she’s released her tax returns; Trump hasn’t.)
In her words: "A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons." (Sick burn!)
Worst pander: That time some poor, well intentioned but tone-deaf campaign staffer tried to say Hillary Clinton was just like your abuela.
Does she want you to vote? Yes. If Clinton is going to win, she needs the same people who voted for Obama—young people, women, people of color—to turn out in force, just like they did in 2008 and 2012.
Party: Green Party
Hometown: Lexington, Massachusetts
Résumé: Physician, professor at Harvard Medical School, ran for president in 2012 and for governor of Massachusetts in 2002 and 2010.
Vice president: Ajamu Baraka, who recently called President Obama an “Uncle Tom.”
Future first dude: Richard Rohrer
For kicks: Rocks out. In the 1990s and 2000s Stein was half of Somebody’s Sister, a folk-rock band that produced four albums.
Best thing about her candidacy: She’s the only candidate who lists “peace” as a major part of her platform; she promises to cut military spending “dramatically.”
Worst thing about her candidacy: Can you say President Trump? Stein isn’t going to win. And if she siphons enough votes from Clinton to put Trump in the White House, it would be a huge step back for the very causes she supports.
In her words: "Instead of bailing out #WallStreet, let's bail out students!”
Biggest fail: That time she said this about Wi-Fi in schools: “We should not be subjecting kid’s brains especially to that… and we don’t follow this issue in our country, but in Europe where they do, you know, they have good precautions about wireless. Maybe not good enough, you know. It’s very hard to study this stuff. You know, we make guinea pigs out of whole populations and then we discover how many die. And this is the paradigm for how public health works in this country.”
Worst pander: Stein is a doctor, so it’s very strange—and very dangerous—to see her sound so many dog-whistles about unfounded, anti-science conspiracy theories on vaccines popular among some on the far left.
Does she want you to vote? Yes. Jill Stein’s only chance to make a splash is by picking up young Sanders voters who aren’t down to give up on the revolution just yet.
Party: Libertarian (he switched from Republican in 2011)
Hometown: Taos, New Mexico
Résumé: Republican Governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, ran for president as a Libertarian in 2012, weed entrepreneur (seriously—he’s CEO of the Nevada-based Cannabis Sativa Inc.).
Cosigned by: Drew Carey, Raven-Symoné
Vice president: William Weld, who supported Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, earlier this year.
Future first wife: Kate Prusack, who he’s been engaged to since 2009. What’s taking so long, Gary?
For kicks: Runs triathlons, climbs Mount Everest, smokes weed.
Best thing about his candidacy: A former Republican who seems to be siphoning support from Trump, Johnson’s candidacy could help build consensus on the right about lessening the government’s heavy hand when it comes to abortion, drugs, and more.
Worst thing about his candidacy: He’s convinced a number of progressive Sanders supporters to vote for him, even though he’s for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, against hiking up the minimum wage, and wants to cut Medicaid and Medicare drastically. In terms of policy, he’s the anti-Sanders.
In his words: “I believe that every time you pass a law you take a little bite out of freedom.”
Biggest fail: That time he was asked about the city making tragic headlines as ground zero of the Syrian civil war and responded, “What is Aleppo?”
Worst pander: When he showed up to Miami’s Little Havana earlier this year in a traditional Cuban guayabera shirt.
Does he want you to vote? Unclear. Tuition-free college was a pillar of Sanders' appeal to young voters; but as a Libertarian, Johnson is diametrically opposed to the government's involvement in higher education.
Trump: "I am the law-and-order candidate,” Trump says. By that, we don't think he means like SVU. Think more Richard Nixon.
Clinton: In the ’90s, Clinton was all about “superpredators” and mandatory minimum sentences. Today, she says our criminal justice system is ”out of balance” and has a plan to make sure that all (or black or whatever) lives matter.
Stein: The Green Party platform reads like Killer Mike wrote it. Stein wants to end police brutality and mass incarceration by ensuring that “communities control their police rather than police controlling our communities, by establishing police review boards and full time investigators to look into all cases of death in police custody.” Also: “Demilitarize the police.”
Johnson: Libertarians are all about the rights of the individual, which means they don't mess with the War on Drugs and the prison industrial complex it fuels.
Clinton: Clinton used to believe marriage was a union reserved for a man and a woman, but thought civil unions were cool. Then she supported letting states decide if gays could marry. She “evolved” on the issue in 2013 and now proudly flies the rainbow flag.
Stein: Stein calls for protecting LGBTQIA+ people from discrimination. That’s right—she’s looking out for the QIA+ folks too.
Johnson: Johnson’s libertarian ideas extend to sexuality as well. “Responsible adults should be free to marry whom they want, arm themselves if they want, and lead their personal lives as they see fit,” his site says, “as long as they aren't harming anyone else in doing so.”
Trump: Trump has said he’s “very pro-choice” in the past. For the purpose of the election, however, he’s become very pro-life with caveats. He’s seemingly unsure what to do with Planned Parenthood but does believe that women who have abortions should face “some form of punishment.”
Clinton: “Politicians have no business interfering with women's personal health decisions,” says Clinton. “I will oppose efforts to roll back women's access to reproductive health care, including Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.”
Stein: Not only is Stein pro-choice, she and the Green Party want the government to provide free contraception and abortion access to all American women.
Johnson: In a series of positions that only make sense to Libertarians, Johnson is pro-choice (with caveats) but supports overturning Roe v. Wade because he believes it expanded "the size" of government.
Trump: Trump believes the Department of Education “can be largely eliminated,” and he’s probably serious about that. His website doesn’t even include a section on education.
Clinton: “We have to make sure education is available and affordable to everyone. We need to make college affordable so that you don't have to borrow...and pay off your [student] debt,” Clinton has said.
Stein: Stein’s position is pretty close to Clinton’s, but she says it with her chest: “Abolish student debt to free a generation of Americans from debt servitude.”
Johnson: Johnson also wants to get rid of the Department of Education but, unlike Trump, he argues that eliminating the department and its student loan program would bring down the cost of tuition, “because colleges and universities would have to go out and attract you as a student.”
Trump: Despite the GOP’s and his running mate's staunch opposition to legal drugs, Trump is pretty much like, “meh,” and has even come out in favor of medical marijuana.
Clinton: Clinton was a warrior against drugs in the '90s, but her position on legal weed has changed over the years. For now, it’s another issue she wants to leave to the states.
Stein: The Green Party is so green that they call weed “hemp.” Naturally, Stein wants to legalize it.
Trump: You might have heard by now, but Trump wants to bring back jobs from China and Mexico. He plans to do that by building a wall, renegotiating America’s trade deals and lowering taxes. If all that works, Americans can look forward to making iPhones at a minimum wage he doesn’t want to increase.
Clinton: Clinton promises to raise the federal minimum wage to $12—not $15, as Bernie Sanders proposed—and wants to leave going any higher to the states. She estimates her 100-day job plan, the bulk of which is an increase in government hiring, will create 10.4 million jobs during her first term.
Johnson: Johnson doesn’t believe government creates jobs—even though he’s running to win a government job. His plan to support job creation? Eliminate federal income tax and the IRS (which would mean a drastic cut in government services by the way). Also, he has a video explaining his jobs plan that looks like a commercial for a personal injury attorney.
Trump: “Obamacare. We're going to repeal it, we're going to replace it, get something great. Repeal it, replace it, get something great!” Trump says. Oddly, he also says when it comes to his undisclosed plan that “everybody’s got to be covered.” His positions on Medicare and Medicaid are similarly inconsistent.
Clinton: Clinton is a health care OG. She took on the issue as First Lady and says she intends to enhance and expand President Obama's Affordable Care Act if elected.
Stein: Stein is a physician and believes health care should be a human right. She says she likes Obama’s Affordable Care Act but would take it to a new level by eliminating private insurance companies and charging government with financing health care.
Johnson: Johnson stands firmly against government involvement in health care, favoring a free market approach instead. In 2012, he called the Affordable Care Act "a torpedo in a sinking ship.”
Trump: Trump, of course, believes immigrants—Mexican and Muslim ones in particular—are a threat to America. He wants to build a wall along the border of Mexico and has spoken about outright banning all Muslim immigrants.
Clinton: Clinton has publicly committed to introducing “comprehensive immigration reform and a path to legitimate citizenship” within the first 100 days of her administration. She also says she plans to enforce immigration laws “humanely.” Sounds a lot like Obama, whose administration set the record for deportations.
Stein: "Our nation of immigrants needs a just immigration system that won't allow the ruling elite to divide working people. That means halting deportations, passing the DREAM Act, and creating legal status and a path to citizenship for hard-working, law-abiding undocumented immigrants,” says Stein.
Johnson: Johnson supports comprehensive immigration reform and says “a work visa should include a background check and a Social Security card so that taxes get paid.”
Trump: “If I become President, the era of nation-building will be ended. Our new approach, which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas, and by our friends in the Middle East, must be to halt the spread of Radical Islam.” And he wants to bring his bud Vladimir Putin in on the action.
Clinton: In language not too far from Trump’s, Clinton says she’ll work with America’s allies to take out ISIS in Iraq and Syria and dismantle global terror networks. Clinton, for the record, is not a fan of Putin.
Stein: Stein plans to end America’s wars, drone attacks, and nuclear arms. She says she’ll cut military spending by at least half and close all U.S. military bases.
Johnson: The national security slogan of the Johnson campaign is “No Nation Building. No Policing the World. More Security Here at Home.” Johnson says as Commander-In-Chief he’d only use the military to attack if America is attacked.
Trump: Trump’s position on guns varies as much as his position on abortion. Back in 2000, he favored a ban on assault weapons but now he says such measures are a “total failure.” Today, he also believes some people in schools should have guns, along, perhaps, with people on the terror watch list. Going beyond even the NRA, Trump has suggested people should be able to carry guns in bars.
Clinton: “I do support comprehensive background checks, and to close the gun show loophole, and the online loophole...and to prevent people on the no-fly list from getting guns,” Clinton says. She also once tweeted that she’d take administrative action to end the epidemic of gun violence if Congress wouldn’t.
Stein: Stein is in favor of an assault weapons ban and increased background checks.
Johnson: Johnson diverges a bit from the classic Libertarian view, which is against "all laws at any level of government" restricting access to guns. He actually thinks there should be limited access for mentally ill people.
Trump: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” says Trump. No word yet on the Illuminati’s involvement.
Clinton: “As president, I’ll say no to drilling in the Arctic. I’ll stop the tax giveaways to big oil and gas companies. And I’ll make significant investments in clean energy. Our children's health and future depend on it,” Clinton says.
Stein: Stein is currently facing charges of mischief and trespassing after participating in a protest of the Dakota Access pipeline. Needless to say, she’s not with the shit.
Johnson: Johnson says he’s accepting that climate change is real and manmade, but he still doesn’t feel comfortable passing regulations to limit carbon emissions. Instead, he thinks the free market will work it all out. For what it’s worth, he’s against pipelines that use eminent domain to snatch private property.