Will Generation Z determine this election?

Above: Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels Business News | 26 Oct |

Generation Z is becoming a significant determining factor in this election, as many are able to vote for the first time. 

Born after 1996, Generation Z is the newest group of voters that political candidates must appeal to, known for tech savviness, shorter attention spans and a calling for social change on all levels, this generation makes up around 10 percent of eligible voters this election according to the Pew Research Center. 

Many young adults around the country, particularly in Arizona, have heeded a calling to get involved: interning on campaigns, working for voter outreach non-profits and creating a space for college students to express and expand their political views.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals revised an original order to extend the voter registration deadline. It was extended to originally to Oct. 23 but will instead end on Oct. 15. Since the deadline was extended, Arizona has seen more than 43,000 voters registered. This is supposed to accompany record voter turnout. 

Former mayor of Tempe and current President and CEO of Greater Phoenix Leadership, Neil Giuliano, provided insight on voting in this election.

“Early projections indicate a high likelihood of a record turnout for every demographic, including younger and first-time voters. It would be game changing if young voters participated with even a 5-7 percent increase over 2016,” said Giuliano. 

Since 2016, there has been a push to get younger voters and those that are expected to vote to become active and involved in politics. 

Our Voice, Our Vote Arizona, an organization mobilizing voters and preparing future students to lead while advocating for progressive policies has a focus on putting people and the challenges that they face first.

“I am trying to get as many people as I know registered to vote, the first step in making a difference,” said Jazin Hodge, a Field Director for Our Voice, Our Vote Arizona. 

He said the organization is canvassing for candidates in the presidential election, Arizona’s U.S Senate seat, and for Proposition 208; this proposition on the ballot is to increase taxes on individuals making over $250,000 per year to support education funding. 

The significance of Generation Z in this election stems not only from their age, but from their experience in regard to social and societal issues facing the group. The pandemic, social injustice movements, environmental advocacy and voter outreach are causes where many teenagers and young adults are putting forth effort. These are also areas that Gen Zers, who make up one-in-ten voters in this election, will use to decide who represents them in local and national politics.   

Gen Zers are also more racially diverse than any other generation: 25 percent are Hispanic, 14 percent Black, and 6 percent are Asian, only about 5 percent identify with two or more races the Pew Research Center says.  

This will cause many of these new voters to consider race and ethnicity, and issues facing their communities, when filling in their ballots. 

ASU College Republicans and Young Democrats of Arizona are both organizations that serve as a space to converse about party values and ideas.  

“We are now the youngest voting-block in American history. We are going to have more people out there voting, we are going to see high turnout,” said Joseph Pitts, the President of ASU College Republicans.  

Pitt’s interest in politics came after coming across an advertisement on social media about interning on former Republican Sen. John McCain’s re-election campaign in 2016. He took the opportunity and it has opened doors allowing him to get more involved in politics. 

Pitts said there are young voters who are particularly worried about where this country is headed and it’s good that they are able to have their voice heard. 

For students like Calli Jones, her calling to politics was voter registration, “getting people registered to vote is the best way to create a system where civic engagement is the norm.” Jones is a graduating senior at Northern Arizona University, and serves as the President of Young Democrats of Arizona.

“Young people, we are the most diverse voting bloc, as well as the newest voting bloc. And we have direct impact to change the outcome of the election. There are 4 million 17-year-olds who are going to be 18 by this election. I think Gen Z holds more power than they realize in this upcoming election,” Jones continued. 

According to Business Insider, 68 percent of Gen Zers feel the country is headed in the wrong direction.

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