The main reasons motivating young people to vote in the upcoming elections are the will to take advantage of their civic rights, social equality, and to be part of the processes of change.
By: Edda Pujadas
“Apathy,” “Indifference,” and “Lack of interest,” are words that we have often used to describe the behavior of young people about politics. Nevertheless, several public surveys are now showing that the reality might be different.
Opinion polls conducted among people between the age of 18 and 26 show that the vast majority of them would not only vote in the upcoming elections to be held in November of this year, elections both national and local, but that they see them as a right and an opportunity to decide on their future.
In general, young people are concerned about the amount of debts they have or can have due to education, the available economic opportunities for their generation, affordable health services, social and racial equality, the increase in inventory of affordable housing, and those of Latino or Hispanic origin are also concerned about immigration issues, despite the fact that most of them already have a legal immigration status in this country.
Some experts argue that young Americans could make the difference in the November election, helping determine the outcome of the Presidential election between Republican President Donald Trump and his Democratic contender, Joe Biden, as well as the political control of Congress, and more.
Recently, Telemundo and BuzzFeed News conducted a countrywide survey among young people about the electoral process in the United States to find out what their voting intentions and preferences were. The study found that the main motivation for young people to vote was equality for all with a 76% preference.
Young people’s interest in achieving equality for all is evident not only in their intention of vote but also in their participation in social movements. 56% of these young people stated that they are involved in activities in favor or racial equality, 38% in the defense of immigration rights and 29% in the fight for the LGBT community.
Evidence that the apathy young people showed or have shown before has been left behind is that 69% of them reported that they pay attention to the news. They are interested in knowing how things affect their daily lives and their future. 62% reported that they follow the news through social media and 48% through television.
According to this survey, 7 out of every 10 respondents are concerned about making college education free, 8 out of every 10 are concerned with legalizing marijuana for medicinal use, and 6 out of every 10 making recreational marijuana legal. The survey also showed that a controversial issue such as abortion has very different views, 49% of those surveyed considered that it should be legalized while 40% see it as murder.
82% of respondents indicated that the Black Lives Matter movement and its protests influenced their intention to vote, while 71% said they are being motivated by the coronavirus pandemic. These results show the interest of young people for social and racial equality and our health system.
As for their position on the debate on vaccines and COVID-19, the pandemic ranks high in the tendencies of young people, 8 out of every 10 of those surveyed expressed their concern for this worldwide virus. Among this group, 83% stated that they have been affected by this disease, and 48% lost their job or they can’t pay their rents.
“MY RIGHT TO EXPRESS MY OPINION”
Doral Family Journal interviewed several young people in our community to find out if they would vote in the upcoming elections. They all responded that they will vote and that they are concerned, and the same is happening in the rest of the country, about social, educational and health issues. Their main motivation to participate in this election process is the opportunity to decide their future.
Glenda Ibañez says she will be voting in all the upcoming elections. Her main motivation is so she can provide her opinion on the changes that affect her community. She believes that it is important to improve public transportation, recycling programs, and to increase the availability of affordable housing. “I like to think that my vote can be that decisive vote.”
Henry Diaz, who is Venezuelan by birth, also indicated that he will vote in the next election. “I wasn’t born here but the United States opened the doors to me and my family so I want to take the opportunity to decide on the people that will be in Office because that will define our future.”
Yennylind Ortega Sardi defined the vote as a right that all citizens have to choose what we want for the country in which we live. “For me, it is an obligation and an opportunity to be able to have an opinion. We have to be part of the process, do something in case we want a change, it’s our grain of sand.”
Valeria Delgado believes that not voting in elections is giving up your right to be heard. “If we have the power to make decisions about the quality of life we want for ourselves and future generations, we need to take advantage of it. In addition, voting gives us an opportunity for change to have a positive impact on the community.”
Alexander Parra sees elections as a citizen’s duty. “I think we should study about each candidate, learn about him, what he has done, who he is, what he is offering and then chose the one that better aligns with our way of thinking.” For Alexander, the main issues that deserve priority attention are the increase in safety, defense to immigration rights and the construction of a health system that is more affordable to all.
Felipe Ospina did not hesitate for a second to answer that he will vote. “Exercising our right to vote is our way of supporting the proposals offered by those politicians that will work in favor of the common good of our society. This is what will allow us to be able to express our opinion afterwards regarding if we have had a positive change in our community. If we do not take advantage today of the opportunity to decide, how are we going to give our opinion or criticize in the future?”
Jay Khalil is another young man who supports the electoral process, and for him the main motivation is that it is important that things change. “What drives me to vote is the obvious need for change, possibly a new head in Office would help improve America.”
Ricardo Guercione believes that not voting is the same as leaving his future and decisions in the hands of others. “What would motivate me the most to vote is not to miss the opportunity to decide, besides that to me the vote as a right, but also a duty. With regards to my biggest concerns right now I think it’s health, we need to find ways to raise community awareness of the importance of following the CDC’s (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) recommendations.”
Gerardinna Piccone sees the elections directly linked to her own future. “Of course I would vote, because the people who take control of the country, states or cities are the ones who make the decisions that affect us directly and therefore our future. I believe, for example, that the health crisis that we are experiencing today, with COVID-19 shows that there are issues such as the health system that definitely need to be improved.”
A young vote, evidently active and concerned about their fate, tells us that the upcoming elections could put aside partisan leanings or preferences and rely more on what people really want for their future.