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Davis, California

Friday, April 19, 2024

UC Davis students discuss the youth vote in upcoming presidential election

Students say voting is an important exercise of your democratic rights


By ZOEY MORTAZAVI — features@theaggie.org


The upcoming presidential election this November is the first that many UC Davis students will be able to vote in. Across the United States, the young voter turnout — the demographic ranging between ages 18 and 29 — has remained low in recent years.

 In the last several midterm elections, the young vote has averaged at around 25%, with a 28% turnout in 2018 and a 23% turnout in 2022. These numbers actually show a significant increase from 2014, when the young voter turnout only averaged 13%.

 Despite the fact that there has been a 10% increase in the last decade, the overall youth voter turnout is still far below half of the young population. UC Davis students are advocating for the younger generation to take to the polls this November; many believe that it could make a world of difference for upcoming elections. 

“I completely believe that the young vote is very important,” Maya Leonard, a first-year design and communications double major, said. “We’re voting on issues that will affect us more than older people since we will live through the effects for decades. We should be making decisions and having our input so that we create the world and country we want to live in.”

Fewer young Americans plan to vote in 2024 in comparison to 2020, which was a record-breaking year for the youth voter turnout, according to a poll done at Harvard’s Kennedy Institute of Politics.

“I think it’s so crucial that [young people] go out and vote, especially us as college students,” Harry Gunter, a first-year international relations major, said. “We have an opportunity to educate ourselves about politics and get involved to make change. This is a really complicated time politically, and in times like that, every person’s vote can make a huge difference.” 

Various studies have been conducted, including one by the New York Times, into why the youth voter turnout is consistently so low. The study discusses potential ways to increase the youth vote, including reducing systemic barriers for young voters to register and reimagining civics education in the long term. Political education and participation seem to be major factors in whether or not people choose to vote. 

Isabel Wade, a second-year design and psychology double major, shared her thoughts on the role that young voters play. 

“I think voting is an important part of our American institution because it upholds democracy,” Wade said. “I am particularly excited to vote in this upcoming election — for the first time — to play my part in making a positive change in society.” 

Strictly due to the percentages associated with the youth vote, there is a large number of young Americans who choose not to vote. Whether it’s because of discontent with the American government system, a lack of political education or a different reason, the youth vote has a long way to go before it surpasses other age demographics. 

Despite this, there is a large amount of research being done about how political activism has changed in the face of a rapidly growing technology-based world, with Generation Z being at the forefront of much of this activity. This age demographic tends to be politically active and passionate about humanitarian issues; however, this is not always reflected in the ballot numbers. 

Young voters are passionate about the issues that impact them. That’s why they’re at the forefront of our community-based activism,” Nile Blass wrote in an article for the League of Women Voters. 

Research suggests that Gen Z is the most likely generation to boycott a product, company, country or state because of an ethical stance; only one in five Gen Z-ers would work for a company that doesn’t share their values, and 70% of Gen Z-ers are involved in at least one social or political cause.”

UC Davis has many resources for students looking to vote in upcoming elections. Aggie Votes offers election information, voter resources and voter registration information. Students have access to a great deal of information and material to get informed leading up to the presidential election in November of this year. There is also information about where to find ballot boxes on or near campus, as well as advice about where to register as a student living in their college town. 

“The notion that young people’s perspectives aren’t valuable in politics is absurd. We are the generation that will feel the impacts of today’s policy for the longest,” Erin Wade wrote in an article for Forbes. “That’s why it’s so important for young people to take advantage of every opportunity we have to influence policy and why it’s important that colleges and universities make intentional plans to increase nonpartisan democratic engagement and student voting.”

No matter the reason for the low percentage of young voters in America, UC Davis students are encouraging their peers to cast their ballots in this upcoming election and exercise their democratic rights. Seeing as UC Davis prioritizes giving its students voter resources, students should have no trouble finding where and when to submit their votes this November.


Written by: Zoey Mortazavi — features@theaggie.org



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