Georgians headed to the polls on Tuesday and elected Rev. Raphael Warnock to a full term to the U.S. Senate. It was reminiscent of two years ago when Warnock first won in a run-off election. The young voters of Georgia flexed their political power in 2020, posting the fourth highest youth turnout rate amongst southern states and trailing only Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. However this time around, things were much different for voters.
My name is Faith Rasmussen and I’m the IGNITE Fellow for Washington state! I feel lucky to be a Fellow because I’ve been given the opportunity to advocate for issues important to my community and create impactful change. For the upcoming election, I’m igniting the vote in several ways.
Ahead of a contentious midterm election, a major policy issue driving me and many other Gen Zers to vote is financial security. At the local level, understanding where candidates stand on financial legislation is crucial. It’s a question of taxes, yes, because those decisions directly impact me through the amount of taxes taken out of my paychecks and therefore the amount of money I can contribute towards my savings.
Some of our most fundamental rights are on the line in the upcoming midterm elections. From the SCOTUS decision on Dobbs upending the legacy of Roe and women’s rights to choose what they want to do with their body, to our fundamental rights as Americans to access the ballots and participate in democracy, we as a nation are at an inflection point on who we are.
This fall, young women of San Francisco will be heading to the polls to voice their opinions on a number of issues. From the overturning of Roe v. Wade, to the mounting student debt crisis, to the worsening climate emergency wreaking havoc in our own community, we are witnessing the mobilization of a new generation of voters like never before. And if the win for abortion rights in Kansas earlier this year is any indicator, we will see this energy extend beyond just federal races.
I was 13 the first time I clearly noticed the barriers I would face because of who I am and where I come from. At 13, I found out that I was undocumented. At the time, I did not know what this meant for me or for my future. I had so many questions about how my future would be shaped by my status, but this was also the moment where I realized that I still held the power to define who I was.
Why do I vote? So much is on the ballot this midterm, especially one’s own right to vote. So many bits of history, problems, and passion combine to describe why I make voting in each election a priority. There is no “off year,” and our actions at the ballot box should reflect this.
It’s Gen Z that will likely determine the outcome of the midterm elections. There are over 8 million newly eligible Gen Z voters this year. We already saw young people flex their voting power in the 2018 and 2020 elections by voting at historic rates, and they are showing no signs of slowing down. Gen Z and millennials are the fastest growing electorate. Gen Z alone will represent around 20 percent of voters this year. But, the question remains; what will drive this key bloc to the polls?
January 2022 is about the hardest January-ing January I can remember. I don't know about you. Case in point. Like many Americans, I stood in line last week for 45 minutes to get a COVID test. But it was only as I stood there, frustrated, that I realized I was waiting outside the same building where I vote.
When you’re with your friends and family, you might talk about upcoming plans, a favorite TV show, or something funny you saw online. Do you find yourself avoiding topics that are stressful, like politics? It’s hard to do these days when everything feels political, but talking politics is one way to flex your power and educate friends and family members on the issues you care about.