By Adam Koplik, Editor-in-Chief
I can’t vote in the 2020 election. God knows I want to, but unfortunately, I was born five months and one day too late to make my voice heard this year. Despite that, I still went with my parents and older brother when they voted last Saturday. Arriving at the New Paltz Community Center at a little before 1 PM, my family was gearing up for the fifteen minute process that they’re used to when voting. However, by the time we reached the back of the line that was nearing the road at the end of the community center’s long driveway, it was clear this was a longer process than usual. Fast forward two-and-a-half hours, my family finally cast their votes. My brother was certain I regretted coming with them, and, while I must admit standing in line with a mask on for 150 minutes just to not vote isn’t usually my idea of a good time, I’m glad I went.
The 2020 election is easily the most important, polarizing, “can’t it just be over already” election of my lifetime. With the country as divided as it’s been in decades, seeing this line at the voting booth made me happy. Obviously not the line itself, which breeds another huge issue with voting in this country, but the people in the line. By no surprise, the line was full of older people who are consistently the most likely voters in the country. However, there was a strong amount of youth in the line. The youth vote has forever been the most overlooked demographic in the nation, as it rarely breeds high turnout. Since 1980, the 18 to 29 age group has only contributed over 50% turnout twice (1992, 2008) while the other age groups have never dipped below 56%. In what is being pitched as our most election, it’s nice to see young Americans doing what I can’t do and making their voice heard.
Despite not voting, Young Americans, especially in our generation (Z) have been one of the most politically active groups. We’re a very outspoken generation with an amazing amount of activists for such a young group of people like Greta Thunberg (17), Emma Gonzalez (20), and David Hogg (20). However, despite how loud we are, voter turnout is still extremely low among our generation. That’s why it was so great to see the amount of youth in line to vote last weekend. We can yell and chant all we want, but until we get out and vote in people who will implement what we want to see, change will never happen.
We’ve had to grow up faster than most other generations. With social media and the 24-hour news cycle, we can’t ignore the issues we see. Among other things, COVID-19, mass shootings, and mental health issues, have created the most politically active generation since the 60s. On both sides of the aisle, a huge amount of our generation are outspoken about their political beliefs. While the Trump Presidency is a huge reason for this, I have hope that our generation’s activism won’t end on November 3rd.
The 2020 election is no doubt a huge election in our country’s history. Joe Biden and Donald Trump are polar opposites and the winner will shape the future of our nation. But regardless of what happens, I hope this process creates lifelong voters out of our generation. We should be the generation to end the stigma of young people not caring about what happens in the country. We know we do, but we need to prove it. Not just this year, but in every single election after – down ballot and all. We’re the next great generation, let’s prove it.
Featured Photo: New Paltz High School PIGLETS