Gen Z, If You Want Change, Vote


By Noelle Hanson, Staff Writer

In a time where the words “politics,” “government” and “Congress” induce images of corrupt leaders who spend more time on private jets than with the citizens they represent, millennial voting rates are alarmingly low. Now, as juniors and seniors approach voting booths have the opportunity to make real change, it is Generation Z’s responsibility to take a stand.

With a politically active Generation Z who is aware and outraged by the gun violence in school shootings in Florida, Las Vegas and Sandy Hook, many high school students are standing up for change. Walk outs, sit ins, protests and town halls have become a platform for many to grasp the attention of our political leaders. But in order to make real, lasting change- Generation Z must go to the polls and vote.

Although many first time Generation Z voters are aware of basic voting procedures, many don’t realize that in California, citizens can register to vote online as early at 16.

By teaching Generation Z and young future voters that voting should be a priority in one’s life, we are helping create important habits that foster actual change and engagement in our politics today and in the future.

Millennials make up about 31 percent of the electorate, giving them a large amount of power in midterm, general and presidential elections. However, in 2008, only 50 percent of millennials voted in the presidential election. An even more shocking statistic found that only 12 percent of millennials voted in the last midterm election.

Although low voting rates are expected for the youngest generation of voters due to their lack of involvement in politics and lack of interest in elections, it is clear to see that Millennials are struggling to have their voice count on a national level. It is now Generation Z’s responsibility to harness the power that we now hold to have our agenda and values reflected in politics and legislation.

In order for this to happen, we need to start changing the common misunderstandings around voting and elections. Many members of Generation Z, as well as other generations of voters, only pay attention to presidential elections, believing that only the highest office in the United States government matters. Because of this, midterms and general elections are often ignored by citizens resulting in lower voter turnout.

But responsible voters must understand that midterms and general elections can change the party majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate, which has a great impact on what is or is not accomplished when the next president is elected. If we fail to elect leaders who are in communication with the people they represent, how can we expect the changes that we want?

Additionally, we need to modify the idea that because the United States has an electoral system, it doesn’t matter if one person decides not to vote. No matter the number of electoral votes in our states or the order with which our votes are counted, we can show support for a candidate or party by being active in both local and national politics. By being vocal about our ideologies, we can spreading support and awareness of and for our desired candidates and causes. Gay marriage, climate change regulation and desegregation are prime examples of political and moral issues that began in certain parts of the country and spread across state lines because of public support.

Generation Z needs to create a climate where citizens are educated and involved in voting to make a change, rather than just tweeting and being bystanders. With the enormous amount of schools shootings, the uptick in student activism and the absence of change in our laws surrounding this issue, it is our responsibility to use our vote to ignite real change. Once Generation Z becomes involved and prove that we are responsible and engaged in the political conversation, maybe officials or people with power will begin to listen to our cries for change and take our concerns and ideas seriously.

Where to Preregister to Vote: