Gen Z Votes

2020’s Presidential election was extremely controversial and highly anticipated. More than ever before, young voters showed up. 

 Young voters include millennials who were born between 1985 and 1995, and Gen Zers born in and after 1996. Among the nearly 240 million eligible voters in the United States, about 20% are 18- to 29-year-olds. 

 Not only did they vote, young people across the country advocated, spread information, and brought their friends and family to the polls. 

 On Mercer’s campus, students reported having used their social media platforms to make sure their friends and peers were registered to vote. They reported registering their parents and grandparents. They reported constantly using word of mouth to spread information about the candidates and the election. 

 “I pushed voter registration and absentee ballot request links in multiple group chats. I sent multiple reminders of deadlines to my peers, made several social media posts, volunteered with organizations such as Mercer’s NAACP chapter to help encourage the minority vote, and helped campaign with Sanford Bishop and his team,” Mercer University senior Michaela Jones said.

 “I made sure my family and friends were registered, made sure they knew how to check the status of their ballots and accompanied friends to the polls,” Mercer University senior, Yasmeen Hill said.

 They also report realizing that this election impacted them more than they realized before. 

 “And when I protested over the summer, I urged my peers to not let their anger and passion stop in the streets, but to take it to the polls and elect the change they want to see,” Jones said. “Not just in the Presidential election, but their local and state elections. Because those elections affect us more quickly and substantially than the Presidential, albeit all elections are important.”

 “It was a very polarizing election because I think everyone hated all of the candidates all so much. For most of us it was choosing the lesser of two evils,” Mercer University sophomore Mo Baldwin said. “The options had to be weighed of who was worse for the country. It was so crucial because almost every minority had their rights at stake based on who won this election. 

 Students were able to attest to the reason this election was so important to them, and articulate exactly what changes they expect to see in the coming years. 

 “Depending on the results of other elections such as Congress’ House and Senate, we could really start to see real leadership come back and those pressing issues come back to the forefront,” Jones said. “Whereas they’d been pushed to the back in the last four years; issues like environmental care/activism and climate change, addressing the underlying racism still present all over the country, especially in our government organizations, policies and systems, student debt resolutions, healthcare accessibility, immigration reform, and international relations and peacekeeping,” Jones said. “Hopefully the new administration will focus more on the future and progressive policies.”

 “I was immediately relieved the moment I saw those election results both for myself and all of my peers,” Baldwin said. “I’m hoping this is a good step towards the country becoming more progressive, that many of the current social issues will actually be taken seriously. I don’t think we’ll see any immediate changes but hopefully in the long run, things will get better for all the groups who have been really affected the past few years.”

 Many of the younger voters in this election took great pride in both being active participants in the election and being extremely informed and grounded in their choices and opinions. 

 A very popular trend that flooded social media consisted of young voters posting their ‘I Voted’ sticker at the polls and further encouraging their peers to get out there. 

Students at Mercer were particularly invested in the election and had committees and teams set up on campus to encourage and help students get registered. And although the election results are finalized, they still feel invested and plan on being invested in the country’s politics. 

“When the results were finalized, I cried. I was so fearful and stressed about the results of this because I remembered exactly how I felt as a freshman in college back in 2016 watching Trump win that election, my first election. That’s why I went so hard with trying to raise voter awareness and push voter participation this year,” Jones said. “I was scrolling on Twitter when I saw the first person on my timeline retweet the news and I genuinely began to cry, and all I could say was “thank you God” over and over again. It felt like a weight had been lifted. Like the victorious end of a long, exhausting battle.” 

“Biden and Harris are not the perfect choice, but it’s a start to the long recovery this country needs. We still need to hold them accountable not only for their election campaign promises, but also for a lot of their controversies from their pasts – Harris’ regressive incarceration policies and Biden’s extensive history of supporting racially oppressive policies and legislation, and questionable comments. That’s not to say that they haven’t learned from their mistakes, but we the people who voted for them and have been paying attention want to SEE that, not just hear it.” Jones said. 

Overall, the voter turnout of young voters was historically high during the 2020 which projects good participation in politics in the coming years.