A message for the media and political pundits everywhere: it's time to ditch the narrative that young people won't vote this election cycle. We all hear it every four years, and every four years young voters engage late and show up in force. It's what we do. And our numbers at Rock the Vote underscore the point that we have seen a turning point in the 2016 election cycle.
This year alone, Rock the Vote has registered more than 1.5 million new voters through our online voter registration platform. Over one hundred thousand of those voters registered in the last week. And our new poll with USA TODAY shows that 83 percent of Millennials across the country are now registered. This spike in registrations, as many state deadlines approach, represents an exciting rise in enthusiasm and activation among young and first-time voters. Our generation is stepping up and disproving the popular narrative that we are apathetic or disengaged, just in time for the 2016 election -- and just as the term "Millennial voters" keeps popping up in media headlines and cable news tickers.
Again, this isn't a surprising trend. When was the last time you saw a college student working on an assignment six months before it was due? Young people tend to keep our options open, to resist strict adherence to party-line votes, and to make our decisions later than our parents or grandparents, preferring to wait for organizations like Rock the Vote to reach out to us when it's time to get signed up.
But our tendency to procrastinate should not be misinterpreted as apathy or lack of passion.
As we've traveled the country this year and engaged with college students and young people on campuses and in their communities, we've seen a groundswell of passion and enthusiasm on the issues that shape our lives. Millennials are the ultimate issue voters. We care intensely about our vision for a more just and inclusive future, and we're ready to support candidates and ballot initiatives that help further that vision. We've already elevated important issues like college affordability and racial justice in the national debate this year, and we're not quitting now.
Young people from Des Moines and St. Louis, Charlotte and Las Vegas, have come together this year across gender, race, economic background and sexual orientation lines to fight for bold policy changes at every level. Millennials have been at the forefront of the efforts for criminal justice reform, arguing passionately for changes to a system in which we see so much injustice. We've taken on the fights for equal pay and a living wage, comprehensive immigration reform, and LGBTQ equality. In states with ballot initiatives, Millennials are campaigning for commonsense gun laws, renewable energy policies and laws to turn the tide on our failed drug wars.
In Madison, Wisconsin, we met young people passionately supporting candidates willing to tackle the student debt crisis and make college accessible to anyone who can dream of an acceptance letter. In Columbus, Ohio, we spoke with young people working to put a halt to climate change, fighting to leave a cleaner and brighter world to the next generation.
So despite what you've been told, Millennial voters are not just engaged, we're also political, we're passionate and we're ready to speak truth to power at the ballot box. We didn't give up in June, or September, or at whatever other turning point you thought we would. Nope, we're still here.
As the largest and most diverse generation in American history, Millennials cast the decisive votes in 2008 and the 2012, electing and reelecting our nation's first black president. Following months of handwringing and political punditry questioning our commitment and our passion, we showed the nation what we were capable of. And the registration numbers strongly suggest we're going to do that again. We're going to decide who moves into the White House in January, and we're going to elect the next generation of state and local leaders.
As online registration forms and voting pledges continue to pour in, absentee ballots are requested and Millennials begin early voting in droves, stop questioning whether or not we'll show up, and start listening to what we have to say.