With the Presidential Debates settled, Election Day inches closer and closer as Americans ready themselves to decide who will lead the country. Voters are the most important part of our government, and this election is looking to be a big one.
“The 2020 election is going to be monumental,” senior Benjamin Quinn said. “It will define not only a public health crisis but a civil rights movement.”
In history, young people have been a passionate but not politically active voter base. According to Politifact, voter turnout for 18-29-year-olds is lower than any other age group, but some students hope to change that.
“I’ve always considered [voting] a huge coming of age type situation,” senior Coral Gregory said. “If the ‘trendiness’ of political involvement is followed through with, I really do believe voter turnout will increase.”
Digital calls to vote are occurring more frequently with each election year. Posts by celebrities and politicians urge young adults to let their voices be heard, and President Trump even uses Twitter to communicate with the American public. As social media goes political, students have had a closer connection to political conversations.
“I believe social media has inspired a younger generation to get engaged in politics,” Quinn said. “Instagram especially has taken politics from an old man’s game to something that kids my age can have a genuine opinion on, as well as a platform to speak those opinions. [It’s] been the main source of my election exposure. People post about social movements ranging from Breonna Taylor to new COVID measures.”
Although the fast pace of the internet has allowed important news to become a national conversation overnight, some students fear voters are being misled online.
“Recently I’ve realized how much my personal growth, in terms of being politically educated, has pushed me away from social media,” Gregory said. “You begin to realize how blatantly misinformed people are. I do feel that this is dangerous for young voters, and all voters really, because a lot of people are getting secondhand information as to their main source.”
Whether social media is an overall positive or negative, voters can agree that a larger issue is that many Americans do not even believe their vote matters.
“To those who say voting does not matter, I would say I understand, but the government was designed to have levels of accessibility,” Quinn said. “Getting involved in local government is a way to see your votes actually make decisions.”
“My opinion is that no change will ever be made if it doesn’t start with you,” Gregory said. “If everyone held the opinion that the right to vote [doesn’t matter] then we wouldn’t even be afforded that right in the first place.”
So while young people have not been the most dependable group voters in the past, student voters around the nation hope to rally political involvement. Some even suggest teens get involved before they can vote.
“Those who can’t vote should still be starting conversations and building the foundations of their political education,” Gregory said. “The process isn’t entirely straightforward, and it takes a lot more work than one will be able to garner all at once.”