We’ve been hearing a lot about Gen Z this year - the roughly 24 million Americans eligible to vote for the first time in November. While Gen Zers are expected to account for 1 out of every 10 votes, maybe you’re one of the younger Gen Zers who can’t yet vote, and are screaming ‘What about me?’. This post is for you.
This presidential election is one of, if not the most, controversial to happen in our history. And just when you think things can’t get any crazier, they do. Whether it’s the trainwreck of the first presidential debate, the misinformation about mail-in ballots, the health of the candidates themselves, not to mention their stances on issues, everyone in this country seems divided.
You might think most people are decided on who they’re voting for, but trust us - many are undecided and many may not like either candidate enough to vote at all. Not to mention, there’s state and local elections and ballot measures to consider.
There are lots of ways to get involved. You can start exercising your ‘political muscle’ before you turn 18. Here are 7 ideas.
This may seem obvious, but educating yourself is by far the most important step in influencing the election. Make sure you’re reading trusted news sources, and if the first spot you’re reading is on social media always make sure to dive deeper into the original source to fully educate yourself on the candidates and the issues.
There’s no such thing as a stupid question, right? So, ask away. Being politically engaged is a lifelong process and it’s awesome you’re starting now. Don’t understand the electoral college? Don’t see how local ballot measures affect your community? Want to understand a candidate’s stance on climate change? Ask! Ask, adults, teachers, even organizations like IGNITE can help.
Talk with family and friends who can vote
It may be difficult or awkward, but starting a dialogue with the people in your life who can vote is incredibly effective in using your influence. If you have a cause or candidate you’re passionate about, explain your stance, and start a dialogue. Maybe your parents or the adults in your life don’t have the same views as you, but these conversations are ideal for learning about each other’s perspectives and seeing their point of view. Whether or not either person changes their view, it’s a learning moment - and great practice at articulating your views and persuasively arguing your point.
Amplify issues that are important to you
No matter how many followers you have, sharing on social media is one of the fastest ways to spread your message. Many Instagram accounts share content on political issues. If you share one of these posts, and then some of your followers share it, and some of their followers share it, it could eventually reach thousands of people. Just make sure you’re always sharing from a trusted news source.
Pre-register to vote for the next election
Some states allow pre-registering to vote for the next election! Voting in the 2022 midterm elections is just as important so check to see if pre-registering is an option. California allows people to pre-register at 16, meaning you will be automatically registered on your 18th birthday. To find out if you can pre-register, visit this website.
Get your teachers involved
Ask your teachers to use some class time to discuss the election. There may be some political issues like abortion or gun control that your teachers or school aren’t comfortable discussing in class but encouraging your teachers to center on the candidates, issues, and voting, in general, is totally reasonable.
Use your talents to make an impact
Whether it’s writing, public speaking, art, design, or social media prowess - there’s a way to use your talent to make an impact. Write an opinion article for your school paper. Design graphics for a local candidate. Share pre-registration information with your friends and followers on social media.
Even though you’re under 18, your voice matters. Your generation is full of future political leaders and influence. This is your permission to be the change you wish to see. Make a plan to #IGNITEthevote today!