In the 2022 Midterms, young voters nationally had the second highest turnout in history with 27% of people 18-27 showing up to the polls. Some ask for the reason of the increase.Of course, you could say things like social media and specific campaigning strategies, but one thing that specifically motivated me to vote was my experience working in the polls.
I did not know what poll work entailed, but determined and optimistic, I embraced the opportunity. There were many things I was, one being how I was going to get through the 14-hour-long day. Luckily, my peer from class was placed at the same precinct as me. While sitting and working the poll pads for a couple of hours, I turned to my friend and said, “I haven’t seen a single person our age walk in here yet.” She nodded in agreement, as a lot of the people coming in to vote on Election Day were probably at least 10 years older than us. It was also very strange being the youngest people in such an important place at that time. Although jokes were cracked about me and my friend being babies, it made me wonder if anyone our age was going to show up at all.
Youth are constantly told that we are the future, born to lead and change what is bad in the world. The same people who told us this are now claiming that our generation is lazy, apathetic, and spends all their time on TikTok. Stereotyping aside, I personally don’t believe that to be true. With it now being a month past the midterm elections, young voters showed up and showed out, being the main reason Democrats still hold the Senate now. I’m not surprised, as the younger generation gets hit with current issues more than ever.
Today, you can’t turn a blind eye to what is happening in the world, just sigh, and rely on blissful ignorance because social media and opinions are everywhere, with Generation Z never knowing a time before this. With the media right now, it is easy to know what is going on. The hard part, however, is living through it. Dobbs vs. Jackson has stripped women away of a right that our generation has had since birth and a college degree no longer promises a desired occupation. Speaking of occupations, companies claim they are hiring and people “don’t want to work” but will not give young, motivated workers a job while the cost of living is more expensive than ever. Although there is good, it is hard to see past a lot of the dissatisfaction in the world right now. Younger people want change, and the only effective way to do this is by electing officials who believe the same and advocating what we believe in.
Still, 27 percent is far below the majority of younger voters, so there still is work to be done. This brings us to the question of how we get younger voters to do something or keep showing up at the polls. Oddly enough, poll working is the biggest reason I voted with ease and confidence. Not seeing many people like me that day showed me that my voice was going to be heard if I didn’t go out to the polls. But many younger people do not take the opportunity of poll working because, like me, they do not know the opportunity exists. If the community goes out and offers it as an opportunity to volunteer and give back to a community in a civic way, more younger people would be shown the importance of voting rather than being told it. Service emphasized the importance of civics.
Overall, young voters are an important and underrepresented demographic in elections. Having younger people get involved with civic engagement like poll working will promote the importance of voting and will cause more to go to the polls. This will cause elections to be more representative of the population and for change and progression to come.