Gen Z students prepare for state primary elections

Bryce Berry (right) is running for Georgia’s HD56. He is currently a teacher and a graduate of Atlanta’s Morehouse College. // Photo by Shruthi Mohana Sundaram Student Publications

Early voting for the Georgia Presidential Preference Primary and Georgia State House District 125 Special Runoff Election began on Feb. 19, 2024 and will remain open until March 8, 2024, before the election date on March 12, 2024. 

A presidential preference primary allows voters to specify their preference for a particular candidate to be named a party’s nominee for the presidency. 

These occur in every state, with some states opting to have separate election dates for different political parties. Georgia is an open primary state, meaning voters do not need to be registered members of any political party and are allowed to select which party ballot they would like to vote on.  

Voters are set to return to the polls on May 21, 2024, for the Georgia State Primary, with early voting running from April 29, 2024, to May 17, 2024. 

This primary allows voters to select their candidates to be nominated for the U.S. House of Representatives, State Senate, State House  and State Supreme
Court, to name a few.

In recent years, campaigning trends across many parties have been directed toward Generation Z (Gen Z) voters. 

Gen Z is defined as those who were born between 1997 to 2013, and efforts made towards policy surrounding education, student loan debt and environmental concerns through social media outlets such as Instagram and TikTok are meant to boost attendance from this younger audience at the polls. 

As those in Gen Z approach the legal voting age, many have become increasingly active in civic engagement, not just at the polls but within campaigns, with some even running for and winning seats in office. Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) became Congress’s first member belonging to Gen Z in 2022. Even here on Tech’s campus, there is growing involvement in state politics. 

Shruthi Mohana Sundaram, fourth-year MGMT, is the president of College Democrats on Tech’s campus and the Vice President of Voters of Tomorrow Now Georgia chapter. 

In partnership with Voters of Tomorrow, Mohana Sundaram hosted a meet and greet for a Georgia State House of Representatives candidate, Bryce Berry.

Berry is the first member of Gen Z to run for Georgia State House of Representatives in House District 56 (HD56), which spans over Tech’s campus. 

Berry is running against incumbent Mesha Mainor, who has held the seat since 2021. Mainor, who has previously run for office as a Democrat, left the party in July of 2023 and has since registered as a Republican. 

Berry previously served as a state youth leader for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ 2020 election, along with serving as the Deputy Political Director for the 2022 Coordinated Campaign supporting both Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock and previous gubernatorial candidate, Stacey Abrams. Additionally, Berry has also serves  as the President of the Young Democrats of Georgia,

The event held for Berry took place in the Exhibition Hall on Feb. 15 and allowed him to share his policy goals and hopes for HD56. Berry used his experience working as a Gen Z middle school math teacher to share his plans regarding education, affordable housing and workers’ rights. 

“It was an honor to talk to them about a host of issues from education [to] workers rights, but we had the most substantive conversations around affordable housing. Folks are rightly concerned on how they are going to afford rent and what can our government do to make that burden lighter,” Berry said.

The event hosted roughly 15 Tech students and was not the first of its kind to engage students in local and national politics. This event also was not the first time that Berry has tried to involve Tech students in politics. 

“During the midterm elections for 2022, I organized a lot of events to get Senators [Raphael] Warnock and Senator Jon Ossoff here to speak to students about the importance of voting and why they should get out and vote. Bryce Berry was the State Director for Voters of Tomorrow at the time, and he was also really instrumental in helping me out with that and getting events up and organized here at Tech,” Mohana Sundaram said. 

Berry and Mohana Sundaram are among many members of Gen Z who are helping their generation find their way through the current political landscape by encouraging students to get out and vote. 

“I think being aware of those issues, being aware of when they’re at stake and then going out and voting in the way that you like is important so that you know that at least you had a voice in whatever outcome happens,” Mohana Sundaram said. Distinguishing the difference between national and local elections is also an important aspect of bringing out the Gen Z vote. He also expressed that getting out the vote will better address and legitimize the political
concerns of younger voters. 

“I think it shows in the conversations I had with so many that night, Gen Z issues aren’t as stereotypical or clear cut as some might make it seem. They are complex and deserving of real thought and time into solving. That’s why we need younger folks in office, folks that will put aside the hindsight and really get down to what needs to be done and ultimately be the one to get it done,” Berry said.

Georgia residents can view a sample ballot for the Presidential Preference Primary and other upcoming elections, or update their voter information in the state of Georgia online easily at