The stakes in the 2020 national election seem really high. The political climate feels nearly as polarized as 2016, with less hate towards the Democratic candidate and some Republicans denouncing their own candidate. As a result of the 2016 and 2018 elections, voter turnout has been a key topic for the last few months. Many polls and studies have been specifically geared towards young voter turnout focusing on ages 18 to 29.
This election may turn out to have one of the highest voter turnouts in recent years with “more than 92 million Americans [having already] cast a ballot” by Sunday, November 1, according to The New York Times. Especially in a year wrought with national and individual strife, 2020 could have gone on record for the lowest voter turnout as the pandemic could have kept people home, but that’s not what is happening.
For youth voters, characterized as Gen Z and Millennials, a lot has changed between 2016 and 2020. For starters, a social media awareness of “major social movements lead by young activists” including climate change, racial justice, and voting activism has increased drastically, according to The Washington Post. Events like the Women’s March in 2017 and Black Lives Matter protests this past June have put social justice at the forefront of daily life.
However, this isn’t a youth voter turnout lead by liberal voters or Democrats. According to The Washington Post’s Michelle Ye Hee Lee, “youth organizers from both parties say their generation is ripe for heightened civic awareness.” For example, 25-year-old Republican Madison Cawthorn defends the 2nd Amendment, is running for US Representative for the state of North Carolina, and believes the GOP is due for some changes.
Regardless of who they are voting for, younger voters in battle ground states such as Texas, where both presidential candidates have focused campaigning efforts in the last few months, voter turnout is exceeding expectations. According to Brookings Institute, an American research group, “more than 700,000 young people in Texas had already voted” as of October 23, which is higher than the youth voter turnout at that point in the 2016 election. NPR reported that a Harvard study “found that 63% [of youth voters] said they would ‘definitely’ vote in the election” and “6 million voters under 30 already cast an early ballot.”
Despite voter ID laws and what can only be described as voter suppression by the Republican Party, “more than 66 million Americans have already cast ballots” as of October 29, according to NPR. Early voting has seen a large increase, which is only natural considering the global pandemic, but youth voter turnout is particularly bound to make the voter statistics in the 2020 election look a lot different than the 2016 ones, where youth voters were far and few between.
Many states are still allowing early voting at a city clerk’s office until end of day Monday, November 2 and some states even allow same day registration on Election Day (Tuesday, November 3). Michigan is included in both categories. No matter who and what you’re voting for, there’s still time to get out and vote.