"Democracy is Not a Spectator Sport"
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Election Day has finally arrived, and a national children's leader is urging Ohio's youngest voters to get to the polls today. Children's Defense Fund founder, president and national civil rights leader Marian Wright Edelman, has made stops in Ohio and other states over the past several weeks to encourage Millennials to cast a ballot.
Edelman explained many people died for the right to vote, and she believes anyone standing on the sidelines is not doing their civic duty.
"Democracy is not a spectator sport," she said. "Ohio Millennials, get out here and do your job and say 'thank you' to your ancestors, and move on and build that next path to the future for all of us and to an America who can be a beacon for the world."
According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials are those born from 1981 and on, and constitute about one-third of Americans eligible to vote. But data from the National Census Bureau shows that only half of Millennials eligible to vote cast a ballot in the 2008 election.
Edelman said young voters also need to act on behalf of those who do not yet have a voice: children. She contends a new agenda is needed in the next presidential administration that focuses on investments in children. And she said that includes ending the cradle-to-prison pipeline.
"Ohio children are being caught up in the juvenile justice and therefore criminal justice system too often," she added. "And we've got children sitting in adult jails here. We've got children who are more likely to go to prison as they are to go to good public schools and graduate from high schools."
Edelman also believes policies that end child poverty, improve education and create jobs are among those that will improve the lives of the next generation and the future of the country.