The rising number of young American voters in Texas are tipping the Lone Star State to the left in this year’s election as fewer older generation voters headed to the polls on Tuesday night.
With many more young voters casting ballots for former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, compared to the 2016 election, the state’s political leaning appears to be shifting more liberal. The change also comes as fewer Baby Boomers and Generation X are voting due to a resurgence in cases of Covid-19. The health pandemic has impacted older generations at a higher rate causing them to be more apprehensive about voting in person at polling sites.
“It’s not necessarily that more young people are voting, it’s just that less old people are voting because they’re nervous about coming to the polls because of COVID. It affects them more than young people,” said Anna Marlatt, a second-year student at The University of Texas at Austin. “Maybe because of that, we’re seeing older people have less of an impact on polls in relation to COVID.”
Research conducted by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement showed that as of October 29, 13% of early and absentee votes were cast by voters between the ages of 18 and 29 as opposed to 6% in the 2016 election.
For those who are able to vote by mail, they also understand how prohibitive the voting laws in Texas can be.
“For the primary, I was really forced to vote for California,” said Micheal Brown, a third-year student at Stanford University who is a registered voter in both Texas and California. “The process for Texas is much more difficult, especially if you’re remote voting. It’s just those really small things. All of those steps, that’s voter suppression, it’s supposed to make it harder for you to vote.”
Even if certain young adult voters are able to come out to the polls or cast their ballots by mail, not all will be living up to their generation’s liberal expectations because of their religious beliefs.
“As a Catholic, I’m just a one-issue voter,” said Daniel Maccio, a second-year student at Cornell University. “I think abortion is not good, and I don’t think Biden views that in the same way. To be honest, nothing else really matters to me.”
There is also a concern by some that Americans will not be as engaged with politics under a new administration.
“I’m really concerned that we will never have this level of engagement again,” said Brown. “I don’t think people will care this much about an election again. I study Political Science all the time, but it seems like nowadays, some people just want to be political scientists for the election.”
Brown also worries that news organizations won’t continue the practice of robustly fact-checking under a potential Biden-Harris administration.
What’s more, voters would like to see media organizations balancing their coverage to focus on issues beyond whoever is sitting in the Oval Office.
“What I would like to see is less of a focus on the importance of the president,” said Maccio. “He’s important, yes, but he’s not a divinity. He’s just a man. I would like to see the presidency have a much smaller role in American life.”
And while the nation remains divided between two political parties, young voters are hopeful that under a Biden presidency the focus can be on the issues and the work that needs to be done rather than constant disruption.
“A Biden presidency is just about a return to normalcy,” said Brown. “A transition from chaos to a period of balance.”