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Despite hesitation, young voters should cast their ballot this November

Credit to UCSC Institute for Social Transformation.

   On March 5, California voters cast their ballots in this year’s primary election. Voters nominated who they wanted to be President and who would take the spot in a heated Senate race, among other elected positions and propositions.    Unfortunately, like many other election cycles, youth voter turnout was low. CalMatters, a nonprofit news organization that reports on California elections, found that during the primary,  “of the 6 million voters under 35, only 1.3 million voted.” Despite this, young voters will be a deciding demographic and need to be encouraged to vote this election cycle.

   America has been asking the same question for ages: why is youth voter turnout so low? The answer varies. Many Americans ages 18 to 25 are scared to vote because they lack political experience and some never get registered, but 2024 has a particular problem. Many youth voters identify themselves as independent or find that they can’t relate to either candidate. When looking at former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden, the candidates for the upcoming election, it is easy to see why. America is incredibly diverse; despite this, our two most prominent candidates are older, white men. This has generated voter apathy in many young Americans.

   Despite feeling apathetic, many teens still have their own opinions about the world around them. A survey by Hamilton College found that 95 percent of young people would vote based on issues that are important to them. Abortion, climate change, and immigration will all be hot topics in the upcoming election—topics that many young people have formed passionate opinions about. 

   And while on paper Trump and Biden seem similar due to their age and race, young voters need to know just how different they are politically. Access to information about the policies of each candidate, who has endorsed them, and their political ideology is key in engaging the youth vote. There needs to be an emphasis on the idea that voting is something to be proud of. They deserve to have a say in who makes the legislation that dictates their life. But if voters feel like their vote doesn’t make a difference, they won’t show up to the polls

   Voting for this demographic  is especially important now because many Gen Z voters are coming of age. Although the youth vote seems miniscule with low turnout, the reality is much different. Tuft College’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement found that this year Gen Z  alone will account for 40 million voters—that is one-fifth of the entire electorate. Along with younger millennials, the youth vote will be a powerful demographic. Campaigning for their vote could be this election’s deciding factor. Young voters need to know how influential they are as a group because it makes them feel like they have a voice.

   There are multiple ways that the United States can engage young voters. One of the best ways is by ensuring voter pre-registration. Estrella Torres, a member of the nonprofit Texas Rising that helps engage the youth vote, explains that many individuals simply don’t have the information needed to register. 

   “Some do feel some sort of embarrassment like, ‘Oh you know, I’m already like 20 or 21 and I’ve never done this before.’” she explained in a statement for the National Public Radio. Many students simply don’t know where to go or what forms to fill out, so they never get registered.

   Communities, to combat this issue, can host voter registration drives and pass Automatic Voter Registration policies. Automatic Voter Registration policies would give young people the opportunity to register when interacting with government officials, like when they get their driver’s license.

   Another strategy to engage youth voters is nonpartisan voting education in schools. Civic engagement comes from civic education, so to increase voter turnout in the 18 to 25 age group, a curriculum regarding voting should be required in every state. 

   Publicizing poll worker positions could also help engage young voters and teenagers. Working the polls gives young people direct access to how our system functions. It offers experience that helps prepare teenagers for when they cast their ballot; it even comes with a little bit of cash.

   On Nov. 5, millions will vote for the next President of the United States. Young voters could be the deciding demographic and should be encouraged to vote, regardless of apathy. The issues this election represents need to be emphasized—voter turnout is a metric for a functioning democracy. When young people know the power of their vote, they set the stage for a stronger system. A Gabrielino High School students’ vote is just as important as anyone else’s.  

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About the Contributor
Liliana Simpson-Castaneda
Liliana Simpson-Castaneda, Contributing Writer
Liliana Simpson-Castaneda, in her first year as a Contributing Writer, brings her keen interest in music, particularly from artist Mitski, to our staff. An enthusiast of Nintendo Switch games like Stardew Valley and a regular runner, Liliana also enjoys spending time with her sister over coffee. Joining the journalism team to explore her passion for writing and to step out of her comfort zone, she aims to contribute engaging content on topics that matter to her.
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