One Small Step for Youths, One Giant Leap for Democracy

Following the Stoneman Douglass school shooting, survivors spoke at televised events, delivered speeches at neighboring schools, and scheduled protests to raise awareness of public policy regarding firearms. Supporters gathered in Washington at “The March for Our Lives” for the biggest youth-led march since the protest of Vietnam according to Vox News. Since then, there has been a large effort to mobilize voters aged 18–29, a group which has been historically absent at the poles compared to citizens aged 55+.

Political awareness has become a fad; the school I go to formed a political awareness club and politics are frequently discussed on campus. Even though a lot of young people consider themselves well versed in politics, we are imposters. As the results from the midterm elections were reported, I was not so shocked to see that Florida (my home state) didn’t experience the well-awaited “blue wave”. Leading up to the election, I witnessed friends and family members within the 18–29 age-range miss out on voting. Even worse, they live 20 minutes away from Parkland, Florida. Even being in the middle of the action isn’t enough to motivate the politically apathetic.

Contrarily, the efforts to increase voter turnout did not go unheeded. The New York Times estimated that 114 million ballots were casted during this election — the highest turnout for any midterm. So really, 2018 election was a step towards democracy, not towards a democratic overhaul as a result of a surge in youth-filed ballots.

What can we do to dramatically increase the youth-vote in the 2020 general election? Apart from declaring election day a national holiday, mandating convenient early voting procedures, and relaxing voter registration regulations, we can keep doing what we have been doing — encouraging one another to get educated and go to the polls.