As conversations regarding the 2024 elections start to ignite, I find it worth talking about the voting experience for young voters in an age of technology reliance and its correlation to heightened political activity.
To preface, political engagement within Generation Z is at a historic high according to 2023 midterm election data from Tuft’s Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. 28.4% of 18-24-year-olds cast a ballot in 2022, which surpasses millennials by 5.4%, Generation X by 4.9% and baby boomers by 0.5%.
A generation as reliant on technology as Gen Z is bound to observe current events. I check my phone daily, and whether I seek it out or not, I see what is going on in global and national news.
With constant information being pushed towards us, there is a natural response to form an opinion on certain matters, some more than others. Beginning in elementary school, curriculums heavily emphasized the importance of critically evaluating information sources which alters the way we engage with current events.
An instinctive reaction for many of us, given a new age of misinformation, is to fact-check the information being fed to us and gain more credible knowledge on the topic at hand. Technology has changed the way we view certain issues because social media has created an unprecedented accessibility to different perspectives. By perspectives, I mean directly witnessing an event such as a shooting via an uploaded video on social media.
By being immersed in this content, I believe that we understand to a better degree that even if these types of events aren’t happening directly to us, they are nonetheless happening and the drive to create change escalates.
In the midst of researching and fact-checking information, a sense of passion ignites. This sense of passion extends beyond the realm of curiosity. It morphs into a powerful force that creates an issue-centric voting pattern among young voters, which encourages voters to support candidates who align with their values, given the issues.
A pattern that I have noticed is that self-guided political education by means of exploring a wide range of ideas and perspectives online allows young voters to feel more confident in what they believe in. The question of how far a single vote will go in the overall turnout of elections will always deter individuals from getting involved.
However, I believe that whether the vote counts or not, the action of finding what you believe in and standing true to it by voting is powerful within itself. By doing so, you are also upholding your civic duty. I am hopeful that my vote can make a difference and that we can facilitate a generation that is confident in the future.
Maddie Haydon is a 2020 graduate of Wheat Ridge High School, and is now studying business at Mississippi State.