Youth Voter Turnout: Why Younger People Feel Burned Out About Voting

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Photo of “I Voted” stickers that were handed out during the 2020 primary election. Photo courtesy of Katherine Stahla.

George Floyd’s death, 9/11, the Sandy Hook shooting and the Paris climate agreement might have nothing in common to older voters, but to younger voters they do.  

Many people hear that the younger generation doesn’t feel like voting, or that their vote doesn’t matter. This exact problem can connect to the rapid influx of news online. After seeing so much trauma in the world, and with it seeming to never end, many younger people have started to think that no matter what they do, nothing will change. 

Izel Guzman, a senior art history major, agreed that the media can connect to this feeling of seeing no change, but it can also encourage it. 

“You know, I feel like that type of behavior, when it’s broadcasted, prompts change. It encourages people to want to make a change when you’re realizing by not doing anything you’re allowing this behavior to continue,” Guzman said about stopping the violence towards people of color. 

The reason the death of George Floyd was so impactful was because everybody could see the video of Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck. At the same time this video was released, the world was also dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The #StopAsianHate was trending around the same time because of violence towards Asian Americans. This violence was directed towards them because of where the pandemic began. Stimulus relief funds, global lockdowns, shootings and air raids were also trending in the same month. The fluctuation of bad news has increased while people’s attention spans, and their capacity to handle traumatic events, has decreased. 

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Many young people cannot remember a time without the internet. Although computers, televisions and other mass media have been around for ages, it has not been as readily accessible as  it is currently. Younger generations have social media apps where they could show off their entire lives if they wanted to. Having this technology, being able to post about your day and see what other people post has created a different sense of community. 

Younger people see the internet as a way to connect to people they would have never connected with otherwise, which makes their news feed more diverse. Seeing this diversity can directly impact how a person votes.

Micayla Galavotti, a senior business finance and economics major at the University of Northern Colorado, said that having this access to the internet is a privilege. 

“They didn’t have technology like we did. They weren’t exposed to a lot of different experiences like we are. They very much grew up in the neighborhood they were in, and they were surrounded by people who thought in the same way and were taught in the same way,” Galavotti said about the older generations’ experience, which she believes affects their voting habits. 

The issue is not that young people do not vote. It is that they have hit their limit of compassion that would let them feel like their vote would matter. 

A Greeley resident agreed that, while the media has affected voting, it also prompts change. 

“I’ve always wanted to vote to build a better community. Voting I feel like can definitely give people a chance of building a better community,” the Greeley resident said. 

Election Day in Greeley is today, and there are many places around town where you can drop off your ballot. To see all of the locations, visit Voting Locations, and to register to vote in Colorado, visit here.

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