Young voters are worried about the future of their country and what they will inherit post-pandemic.
Many peoples lives will be shaped by the outcome of the 2020 U.S presidential election.
According to polls, there is a current upsurge in the number of young people casting ballots, however one voter in Tennessee explains that he doesn’t exactly feel positive about the experience, “It feels more of a now-or-never sort of situation, than exercising a right.”
Austin Dowell, a 24-year-old Democrat sound engineering student at the Blackbird Academy in Nashville, Tenn says he definitely feels more of a sense of urgency to vote this year.
On the other side of the political spectrum, Alex Schramkowski, chairman of the Tennessee College Republican Committee believes this will be one of the most important elections that he will witness in his lifetime.
“We’re going to inherit the economy. We’re going to inherit the country after the pandemic is over,” said 22 year-old Schramkowski, who is studying law at Belmont University.
“That’s going to be the country that we grow up in, that we build families in, and that we try and build a career in,” he said.
In a recent Harvard University national poll, students who said they would be voting this year were up 18% compared to 2016.
While the U.S. has one of the lowest youth voter turnouts globally, the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School survey indicates that this year’s election could see youth polling just as high, if not higher than when Obama won in 2008.
“Young Americans today find themselves on the front lines of the ‘triple crises’ of COVID,” Harvard Public Opinion Project chair Justing Tseng said in a statement.
“Their education has been disrupted, job prospects falter, and communities [are] experiencing a racial reckoning causing constant concern about their daily livelihoods and the well-being of their friends and their families.”
“Young voters are tuning in and facing our nation’s challenges head first. Don’t be surprised when they turn out at the polls in historic numbers.”
The 2018 midterms in which a Demorcatic victory was achieved, were the first indication that young people were hitting the polls harder this time around, up 36 percent from 20 per cent in 2014.
With many people voting early due to the pandemic, it has been reported that the number of people casting ballots overall has already exceeded the previous two elections.
“My generation realizes the importance of this moment in history, which is only magnified by the impacts of the global pandemic”, said Schramkowski.
According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, a non-partisan, independent research organization, more than 15 million young Americans have reached the legal voting age (18) since the last election and their potential to make an impact is inarguable.
When combined with their millennial peers, this new wave of voters could comprise up to 37 per cent of eligible U.S. voters, according to a recent analysis of census data by the Brookings Institution.
What’s at stake for young voters?
“I think what’s at stake in this election is trying to make sure that we have a commander-in-chief who has a plan in place to try and get us out of the pandemic, and recover at the fastest rate that we can,” he said.
Speaking about Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s multibillion-dollar investment to fast-track a vaccine, he said “If we’re even able to get one by this winter or kind of early next spring, I’d consider that a win.”
Trump has stated that “distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine would start “sometime in October”, a timeline that is contradictory to that of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield, who said he didn’t expect a vaccine until later in 2021.
Acknowledging Trump’s widely received criticism on his handling of the pandemic, Redfeild said that the U.S. needs a plan that is “formally and safely” rolled out — something “that hasn’t been what we’ve been doing.”
Another immediate concern for voters is climate change, an issue we are yet to hear a robust plan of action on from the Trump administration.
By contrast, he talked about Biden’s position on climate saying that. “He had a really clear understanding of what it was, and from my point of view, he had a really clear plan for the United States.”
But overall, he said he’s “voting for the lesser of two evils.”
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