The importance of the new generation’s votes

An “I am a Georgia Voter” sticker adorns the laptop’s surface. Stickers are usually given to voters after they visit the polls. // Photo by Tom Hightower Student Publications

In the midst of today’s chaotic circumstances, voting may seem less important or necessary, a hindsight while issues like systemic racism, climate change and COVID-19 take precedent.

However, it is as important as ever to vote in the 2020 presidential election, as supporting the right policies now will allow for the next president to tackle these significant problems down the line.

In previous years, students who could not travel to their home state for elections have been allowed to vote at the Student Center.

The Student Center is closed for renovation, but the option to vote by mail is still available. The only requirements to vote in state are that students register before the deadline and use the Student Center or campus housing address.

In Georgia, the absentee ballots begin mailing on Tuesday, September 15, and the last day to register to vote is October 5. Registration can be completed online, in person, or by mail with a valid driver’s license.

Early voting starts on October 12 and ends on October 30.

The next and last opportunity for students to vote is election day, on November 3, 2020.

It is a well-known fact that younger voters have historically been outvoted by older generations, creating the impression that Gen Z and millennial voters don’t care as much about the nation’s problems or are uninformed.

A Medium article suggested, however, that “hearing candidates focus on days long-ago and their previous voting records is not inspiring or informative for a generation who has a lot more future to live than a past
to reflect on.”

Moreover, millennials and Gen Z are also outnumbered by older generations, and non-US citizens who are ineligible to vote also make up a higher percent of the Gen Z population.

Long story short, younger generations avoid voting because candidates fail to connect with younger audiences.

And this divide is visible here on campus, too — according to Tech’s voting information guide, in 2016, 77.6% of students were registered to vote, but only 50.8% of the student body cast a vote for their preferred candidate. This year, however, the voting landscape could change in a way that accommodates for younger voters.

According to a PBS podcast, Gen Z and millennials have found new ways to stay informed about the ever-changing political landscape of our nation.
According to a Forbes article, Gen Z has spearheaded recent protests as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, taking to the streets to rally against police brutality.

An Atlantic article added that the movement is comparable to the civil rights movements of the 1960s.

Social media platforms have also made it possible for younger generations to get involved with activist movements.

Teenagers on TikTok were partially accredited with mass buying tickets to President Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma with no intention of attending.

“I got two tickets, but I totally forgot I have to pick up every individual piece of lint off my room floor,” one app user joked.

While younger voters tend to lean Democratic, they prefer candidates with more radical viewpoints, like Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren,
the podcast noted.

The most significant force driving younger voters to choose Biden, though, seems to be a fear that Trump will be reelected, the podcast added.

A poll by NextGenAmerica indicated that 50% of voters aged 18-24 planned to vote in the 2020 presidential election, an increase from 2016. However, it’s still unclear if Gen Z and millennials’ distrust of Trump will translate to more votes for Biden, as he is not many young voters’ first choice. No matter the choice of candidate, voting is an opportunity for Gen Z students to interact with the election process and stand up for the policies they believe in.

A more comprehensive list of deadlines and policies can be found at vote.cae.gatech.edu/voting-methods.