Gen Z and Youth Voter Turnout
Though members of Generation Z have captured national attention as the central force of protests across the country, it remains to be seen whether or not youth activism will translate to youth voter turnout in the fall. Watch the video, read the summary and answer the discussion questions below. To read the transcript, click here.
- While young voters tend to skew toward Democratic candidates, young voters are also historically less likely to vote. According to the Pew Research Center, 34% of voters between the ages of 18 and 34 were registered as Democrats with only 22% registering as Republican. Both campaigns have tried to appeal to young voters through digital ads.
- During this year’s Democratic primaries, Biden received the least support from voters under 34.
- Deana Ayers, a young voter, explains that many of her like-minded peers find it hard to support Biden, as he does not match up to their ideals or support causes they believe in.
- Still, a recent poll by NextGen America found that 50% of adults between the ages of 18-24 are definitely voting, a 10% increase in projected youth voter turnout from 2016.
Youth Voter Turnout: Discussion Questions
- Essential question: Why is youth voter turnout traditionally low? Does this have an impact on public policy?
- Why is voter participation important? How do you think policy is likely affected when one age demographic is more represented at the polls than another?
- What role does social media play in voter turnout? If you knew that your favorite athletes were voting, would this excite you to vote?
- What issues do you think will drive Generation Z to the voting booths? Explain. Reference this Pew Research Center resource for data.
- Media literacy: Do you think political ads might influence your potential voting preferences? What is the last political ad you can remember seeing? Where did you see it? If there is time, read this piece on the science of political advertising or this piece on political logos.
Youth Voter Turnout: Extension Activities
Discuss obstacles to youth voter turnout with your students. You may want to have them read this article from The Conversation about some possible reasons for low turnout among youth voters.
- What are some aspects of voting that you do not understand?
- What are potential barriers to voting for youth voters, and how can those barriers be eliminated?
- Due to the pandemic, many states are turning to mail in voting as a method to prevent large crowds. Do you think mail in voting will increase or decrease voter turnout among Generation Z? Why or why not? Reference this NewsHour Extra Lesson Plan about mail in voting.
Reprinted with permission of PBS NewsHour Extra.