The Herd

Voting: Gen Z’s Rebellion

Adelin Barstow, Staff Writer

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In a new politically active generation of youth, the students at Kennebunk High School are getting involved. On October 15, the Feminist Club hosted Rowland Robinson, the Grassroots Organizer in York County for the Maine Democratic Party, and Traci Geere, a small business owner in Kennebunk. This group met to discuss the upcoming election, the importance of the youth vote, and how students are feeling about the political climate in their country in recent times.

The meeting began on a cloudy Monday afternoon, by simply addressing the dire importance of the youth vote and possible reasoning behind it’s historically low count. Statistically, the electoral participation of the youth group, aged 18 to 24, has been significantly lower than that participation of those in all older age groups. Rowland Robinson believes that this is mainly because “people don’t feel comfortable [voting at a young age]…and [they would rather] let the ‘grown-ups’ decide.” Younger people, though fully qualified, may be too unsure of their own judgement and ability to select the most suitable candidate, so instead many do not vote. One student comments that they “think there’s a lot of young kids, who have the opportunity to vote, but just don’t because they’re not educated enough to do so.” This is true in many American high schools, especially when nobody reminds the eligible students of the importance their vote.

The ability to vote in this country is one of the No. 1 privileges granted to Americans, and it is our right, and even our duty, to take advantage of that privilege. In contrast to the data showing low rates of youth voters, changes in this political environment have led to great changes in the youth participation and action regarding politics and current events. Beth Carlson, a teacher at Kennebunk High School and the advisor for the Feminist Club, says she has “never seen kids more [involved], and more seniors talking about being registered [to vote] than this year.” From high school kids across the nation walking out to support those affected by the Parkland shooting, to kids simply taking notice and forming educated opinions about current events, it is obvious that a new generation of active participants in the country’s future is on the rise.  

As one student stated in more recent years they’ve been able to see that there’s “a dynamic political climate, and [they] do have the power to do something about [how the future will play out],” although it may not always feel like it. This idea resonated with the entire group, and in this new environment of high school students talking about how the political environment is affecting their futures, there is certainly a new feeling of being part of something greater than oneself. Knowing how many others are involved in this seemingly unrecognized movement inspires a call to action in today’s young adults. One student even comically suggested that voting was an outlet for them to rebel against their parents, introducing a new “way [for teenagers] to get [their] independence, and change something” at the same time.

Whatever the reasoning behind the motivation to vote, whether it comes from a desire to put your input into the course of history, or maybe just the fulfillment of a rebellion against something you disagree with, the votes of the younger generations in this country are more important now than ever. Hopefully this new wave of kids actively participating in the well-being of the country will bring a new generation of educated voters to the polls, which has the ability to change the course of history.

Related: A Look at the 2018 Maine Senate Elections

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Voting: Gen Z’s Rebellion