Voting is not an age-sensitive activity. Young voters need to be more active for what they believe in by voting.
In the hours after Election Day, Representative-elect Maxwell Frost of Florida’s 10th Congressional District tweeted the best summary of midterm election analysis: “Don’t count young people out.”
As the first member of Gen-Z elected to Congress, Frost personifies the election story as Gen-Z voting shocked the American political machine.
As a Gen-Z first-time voter, it’s vindicating to finally see our impact, and I would urge politicians to view this as a trend rather than an anomaly.
According to the polls, roughly 27% of registered voters aged 18-29 voted in the midterm elections.
This represented the second-highest youth turnout in the last thirty years; the only midterm election that surpassed this mark was the 2018 midterms, with an estimated 31% turnout among youth.
Between these elections, around half of youth voters cast a ballot in 2020, which represented an 11% increase from 2016 according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
Like most of my generation, I have heard the dismissive remarks of political analysts, politicians and older citizens.
Accusations of apathy, laziness and immaturity abounded; political cartoons routinely mocked Gen-Z with claims that we would vote only if voting was done on Instagram or Twitter.
During the 2016 election, youth were blamed for not showing up at the polls while analysts ignored that the issues affecting my demographic were mostly ignored.
In contrast, when issues such as abortion and student loan forgiveness were spotlighted on Democratic platforms, my generation delivered by voting in record numbers that delivered the Democrats the House in 2018, the Presidency in 2020 and the Senate in 2022.
From my experience, it is evident that Gen-Z is becoming more politically active.
Politicians have begun addressing issues affecting youth, although not always in the ways we want.
Several states have sued to block student loan forgiveness, and others have passed restrictive abortion laws and moved to restrict LGBT rights.
These all disproportionately affect Gen-Z, so it should not be a surprise that we voted to protect our interests.
Several news outlets have reported that Gen-Z ballots essentially neutralized the over-sixty-five demographic, a staple of party politics.
Shouldn’t that mean that we get similar consideration from Washington?
While this election brought much to celebrate for youth, I would also urge my peers to avoid complacency.
While youth influence has grown significantly, nearly three-quarters of Gen-Z did not vote in the midterms, representing millions of votes.
This should motivate both parties to recognize Gen-Z as a staple of political coalitions and to promote policies that will further encourage youth to vote.
For Democrats, who won youth votes by nearly thirty percent, my generation is a powerful voting bloc that stymied the predicted midterm red wave.
For Republicans, who have continued appealing to older voters at their detriment, my generation is a thorn that, unlike their preferred demographic, will be voting for decades.
If I could offer my peers some advice, I would encourage them to remember this year and to act with confidence.
Contrary to the claims of election deniers and hopeless pessimists, your vote truly matters.
Several races were decided by less than a couple thousand votes, meaning our increased participation swayed these and many others.
The 2024 Presidential election figures to be one of the harshest, most partisan and pivotal elections in our lifetime.
Decisions made by politicians in Washington have a tangible impact on our lives and we have seen stark evidence of that these last couple of years.
Continue to become politically engaged and we can shape the political landscape.
Don’t count yourself out.
By Andrew Steiner