Bring the online push for democracy to the polls

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Photo: Illustration by Joshua Sun

Each generation likes to believe that they are the best generation so far. They will be the ones to change the system, that impacts the world the most. For this election that might just ring true.

By Sabine Waldeck, Columnist

Many people highly anticipate Election Day. Each and every voter sits staring at their TV screen, hoping they did enough for their candidate to win. This election is no different, and it carries even more weight and importance than previous ones. On November 4th, we as a nation will find out if these past four years were a fluke occurrence or if Americans will continue to vote for and stand alongside hatred and bigotry. 

Gen Z and millennials are taking to social media this election to post about the importance of voting. You are probably now seeing an increase in the amount of Instagram stories about the upcoming presidential election. You may fall on the side of obsessively posting about voting information, or you might be the person getting a little sick of seeing it. 

Almost every other Instagram story I see lately from my peers is about voting. Whether it is about how we all have to vote, voting early, information about voting by mail, or the reasons not to re-elect our current president, the general idea boils down to the fact that young people are more actively engaged and interested in voting and the election than ever before.

 Young celebrities have also been showing up, trying to engage with their young, eligible-voter audience this year. Most recently, on October 24th, Selena Gomez held a livestream with actor Timothée Chalamet that showed him waiting outside his polling station in New York City. The two talked about the importance of the youth vote and encouraged their fans to go out and vote as well.

Each generation likes to believe that they are the best generation so far. They will be the ones to change the system, that impacts the world the most. For this election that might just ring true. According to the Harvard Youth Poll, 63 percent of respondents aged 18–29 indicated they will “definitely be voting,” compared to 47 percent from this time four years ago.

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Young voters are important to the continuity of democracy. Young people are told they need to show up to the polls every election. Even with all of this encouragement, studies still show that youth voter turnout is the lowest of any other age group.

Unfortunately, while many young people will say that they plan on voting, the reality is that they could inevitably fall through on their promises once decision day comes. This is a clear vice young people have: we are all talk.

“Fewer than half of Americans 18 to 29 voted in the 2016 presidential election,” wrote Alexandria Symonds of The New York Times. Having such low numbers for the most recent election, which was very sensationalized, is worrisome. With such a large number of people able to take action and have their voices heard, it is really about them deciding to go out and actually do so. 

Millennials, Gen Zers, and younger generations account for 166 million, or 50.7 percent, of the country’s population, according to a 2019 report from the Brookings Institution. The oldest millennials are currently 38 years old, meaning that the outcome of this election really can be decided by young people.

While being part of Gen Z myself, I personally believe that the youth vote might be more influential than ever before. Being told you may be the group to change history gives Gen Zers and millennials the gas for their egos that takes their fingers off the post button and onto a pen to vote.

These seemingly activist-like Instagram stories can’t also die after the 24-hour mark, but need to turn into filling in that circle on the ballot, marking actual change and not just the performance of it. 

Waldeck is a junior studying journalism. Editor-in-chief Diti Kohli did not edit this article due to a conflict of interest. If you would like to respond to this thought piece in the form of a letter to the editor, email Letters@BerkeleyBeacon.com. Letters may be edited for style and clarity.

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