Everyone is excited about this graph showing that “Gen Z” saved us from a red wave:
I love that voters between the ages of 18 and 29, inclusively, have voted in higher numbers during the last two midterms. But this midterm, there was a drop, not an increase, in Gen Z involvement, even though they had more at stake. Also, the number is not that large to begin with. Look at the scale of the graph; it maxes out at 50%. Only about a quarter of folks in this age group showed up in an election that promised to ruin their lives forever. I would have preferred to see at least the modest trend demonstrated in 2018 continue, rather than somewhat reverse. Like this:
When democratic activists like myself complain that the youth vote is not there, it has become common to gets scolded that we should not be so tough on the youth vote, and look, they showed up after all!
Listen: You can and should scold me when I’m wrong, but not when I’m right. Younger voters don’t show up (3 out of 4 don’t show up, kind of a lot), they showed up in smaller, not larger, numbers this midterm (if these preliminary data from Tufts hold up), enough to help, and kudos to the one in 4 who did show up. But can you imagine what would have happened if 10% more showed up? A trifecta, that’s what would have happened.
All we need for a full on demographic transition is a change in behavior in existing age groups. Then we’d be done.
- Make the voting age 17.
- Ask states to provide a special holiday: students and teachers in public schools are off on voting day (but no one else, or voting day holiday will decrease, not increase, voter turnout).
- Incentivize election authorities to use the space in schools for voting locations where possible.
- Incentivize schools to incorporate voting day into their programing.
- Allow 17 and 18 year old voters in schools to treat their school location as a valid voting location, as an option (split books if necessary, so their vote is registered in their home district).
This way the major transition that is HS to College, or some other life history stage, carries voting and involvement in our political process with it, rather than making it harder and more likely. Then we’d have this graph (note change in the y-axis scale):