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Voting During COVID-19: The Need for Young Voters and How To Prepare


March 17, 2020
Written by
Cynthia Schemmer
Written by
Cynthia Schemmer
Design by
She Shreds

Voting during COVID-19 is essential, especially among young voters. Learn how to prepare yourself to get to the polls responsibly during this pandemic.

Today’s Super Tuesday—with voting in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio—is the first primary election since the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Governor Mike Dewine of Ohio ignored a court ruling that rejected his proposal to push back the state’s voting date, and it was decided this morning that in-person voting would be postponed until June 2. Meanwhile, the three other states in today’s primary will move forward with voting, but not without challenges: Arizona has disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer available at polling places, and encouraged those who could to vote by mail; Florida had an extreme amount of polling station volunteers back out on Monday night; and Illinois has been marking the floor with painter’s tape to encourage voters to adhere to six feet of social distancing.

https://twitter.com/cookcountyclerk/status/1239873507137187840

What does this mean for the election? And how can we be sure to vote while also being mindful during a pandemic?

COVID-19 has cast a blinding, sweat-inducing interrogation light on the infrastructure of healthcare in this country, and the detrimental role of capitalism, which is why it is imperative that we all vote—especially young people.

If you haven’t already registered to vote in your state, I urge you to do it immediately, especially if you are on the younger end of the voter spectrum. Some states allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register, so check to see if you are qualified to do. Some states allow 17-year-olds to vote during the primary, some don’t—it’s different state-to-state, but it’s worth checking to make sure you can do everything you can ahead of time to ensure you are able to vote in November. This helpful resource on the us.gov website has just about all the information you need to know, as well as direct links to register in your state.

Young people vote more progressively than older voters, but older voters show a greater turnout at polls. According to the BBC, people 39 years old and younger (millennials and Generation Z) make up more than a third of eligible voters. However, during the 2018 midterms elections, it was noted that only 11% of voters were young people, even though they accounted for 21% of all eligible voters and 18% of registered voters. And despite that 11% being an increase from the 2014 midterms elections, voting rates rose substantially for older folks, too, resulting in a seemingly unchanged voting gap.

According to exit polls, in no state on Super Tuesday that catapulted Biden into the lead did people younger than 30 make up more than 20 percent of the electorate, and in most states they accounted for 15 percent or less. Younger voters have represented an even smaller share of the Democratic primary vote totals than they did four years ago, according to exit polls.”

“Stop Blaming Young Voters for Not Turning Out for Sanders,” The Atlantic.

 

TL;DR – If we want to remove Trump from office, we need to STEP IT UP, especially young voters—and yes, even during this pandemic.

How to Vote During COVID-19

  • Double-check your polling date and location before heading out to vote. Many states are changing the dates and locations to help ease the worries and consequences of the virus. Check with your state’s Supervisor of Elections to make sure you are ready to vote at the right place and time.
  • Take precautions for in-person voting. Every single polling station should have hand sanitizer, disinfectants, and a volunteer making sure there is at least six-feet between voters. However, it couldn’t hurt to bring your own disinfectants with you. And be sure to review the CDC’s Recommendations on Protecting Yourself and Your Family.
  • Mail-in and early voting. Check with your local government ASAP to see how mail-in and early voting works in your state. Some states require an absentee application with a strict deadline for both mail-in and early voting. If this seems like the best option for you, do not wait until the last minute; get on it immediately!

According to NPR, “mail-in voting kept Washington’s turnout rate above 40% in its primary last week, despite its being among the states hit hardest by the coronavirus and subsequent closures. Advocates say that if the entire country offered some sort of no-excuse mail voting, it would make the democratic process more resilient.”

Vote.org is an incredible resource that addresses each state with information regarding voting during COVID-19, including information on changes, state election websites, and links to request absentee ballots. 

  • Encourage friends and family who are hesitant to vote. Share the above resources, send links, show them now to request an absentee ballot, buy them a hazmat suit—do everything you can to get the young voters in your life to the polls!

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