In recent years, younger generations’ voter turnout has been at a modern high across the country according to a Pew Research Center Analysis of 2018 Census Bureau data. The results show that 62 percent of Millennials, Gen Z and Gen Xers were voting and 60.1 percent of Baby Boomers were voting.
“Younger generations in 2018, for one of the first times, were kind of on par with the baby boom generation. I think part of it is because Gen Z and Millennial folks are voting more, and Baby Boomers are voting less,” Anne Cizmar, an associate professor in the Department of Government at Eastern Kentucky University said.
Younger generations, such as Gen X, Gen Z and Millennials have gained a reputation for not voting and not registering to vote. In the state of Kentucky, voters between the ages of 17 to 34 had a total of 47.9 percent voter turnout in the General election of 2016, but only 12.8 percent in the 2016 Primary election.
According to a Pew Research Center data compilation titled, “Gen Z, Milennials, Gen X outvoted older generations in 2018 midterms,” in 2018, 62 percent of Gen Z, Gen X and Millennials voted and 60 percent of Baby Boomers voted whereas in previous years those demographics tended to have a 10 to 15 percent less voter turnout than presidential election years.
“This gap really closed in 2018 and is partly driven by Baby Boomers voting less but also the younger generations voting a lot more,” Cizmar said. “So, it does seem like maybe we’re finally reversing the previous trends of young people not voting.”
The younger generations have not only started becoming more involved in national politics, but in local politics as well. Chaise Robinson, 23, an English major, believes you can find power in changing your own community.
“You can tackle problems like homelessness and food insecurity and human rights at the local level [by voting] and make your individual communities better and take that power into your own hands, whereas at the national scale, it’s very, very, very complicated at this point,” said Robinson.
However, despite the younger generation’s increased voting trend, it is a common belief that one’s individual vote does not count in the long run, and therefore it does not matter whether one votes or not.
“Cynically speaking and sort of rationally speaking, for people who live in reliably red or blue areas that are very polarized, voting is not likely to change the election outcome. If you’re a Democrat voting in this state or a Republican voting in California, it might seem largely pointless,” Cizmar said.
Not all hope is lost, however. For voters living in swing states, voter turnout is especially important for the results of elections.
“People who live in swing states really, really need to vote, because they have critically decisive votes,” Cizmar said.
Robinson also believes it to be an important civic duty, especially for the younger generations of voters and stresses the importance of participating in your government — both national and local.
“Older generations aren’t going to have to worry about what the consequences of their decisions are [in] 10 years, 20 years,” Robinson said. “But you know, younger generations, we’re going to be around to deal with it and if we don’t start dealing with things like climate change now, and healthcare access now and fixing the wage gaps in this country, these are going to be problems that haunt us into adulthood. So, it’s more important for those generations to get out and vote.”
The general election is today, Nov. 5. While the voting registration deadline has passed, you can still participate in your local politics by researching political affairs and keeping up to date on discussion topics in local and national news.