Time for Teens to Hit the Polls


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Delia Miller, Co-Editor

In the United States, Millennials and Generation Z now make up more than a third of eligible voters. Despite this, the U.S. has one of the lowest youth voter turnout rates in the world. The voting gap between 18 to 29-year-olds and those over 60 is more than twice as wide than in comparable nations, such as Canada. Young adults outnumber senior citizens 46 million to 39 million, but only 45 percent of them vote, while 72 percent of seniors participate in our democracy. This means that while the young voters are in the minority of those who participated in the elections, they have the potential to sway voting outcomes by a landslide through full participation. The Youth Vote is predicted to have a significant impact on the 2020 election.

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The reason behind low turnout among young people can be chalked up to one simple occurrence: voting misinformation. From voter registration deadlines, individual importance, to a lack of knowledge about candidates and their policies, many potential voters never end up making their way to a ballot. Among the fraction who do is 19-year-old Ashton Rios. “Voting registration often caters to older people who don’t have anything to do during the day. Whereas younger people always have college or part time jobs or full time jobs, or they have homework to do or exams to study for,” she said, stepping into the mindset of a nonvoter. “So… why would I waste precious time going towards my degree by voting?” This mentality can be seen across the board. Many teens are unconfident in their ability to navigate the voting process for the first time. Oftentimes, voting quite clearly falls on the back burner amongst their demanding, hectic, and ever-changing schedules. It is apparent in recent times that many young people wish to participate, are interested in the political sphere, and have the resources to enact local change. However, they find following through too difficult to actually adhere to their initial good intentions.

Photo By Rachel Zein for The Texas Tribune

While voting may be less extensive than in previous years, especially due to the pandemic, access to registration information and early voting are still available for people who want their voices heard. By choosing not to seek out registration resources and voting, another member of your community who does vote will make choices for you. A single vote could potentially have the weight of tens or hundreds of people who abstained. Richard Nixon would have become President of the U.S. in 1960 over John F. Kennedy if one person from each voting place had voted differently. “For a democracy to be effective, everybody able to participate needs to, and first-time voters are an absolutely essential part of that,” said Ashlyn Mullins, member of My School Votes, a new club at Apopka High School. “This is the first time that many in our generation have the power to touch the future… It’s vital that we participate in shaping it in line with our core beliefs and setting a precedent for future generations.”

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