ORLANDO, Fla. – With eight days to election day, voters continue to step out to the polls for early voting or through mail-in ballots. One demographic that could play a significant role in the 2020 presidential election is the youth voter, ages 18 to 25.
“We’re here to make sure those students' opinions are captured properly, and we get them engaged with what’s going on not only in their school community but their home community,” Matamron Bacon, a senior student at St. Thomas University in Miami and fellow of the Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP).
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The goal of CEEP is to find out what’s important to young student voters across colleges and universities and then get them involved in the electoral process.
“Oftentimes we fail to realize that because something doesn’t affect us specifically, that doesn’t mean that someone else has a life or death decision made by how we vote or not vote,” said 21-year-old Bacon who is an English and political science major. Bacon said his peers are concerned about healthcare, minimum wage, and abortion rights, among other issues, and have shown more interest in this year’s presidential election than in previous years.
“It’s them pursuing what they want-- letting that voice be heard and ultimately turning the tides of how an election can actually turnout overall,” Bacon said, adding “You let 'em know this year that issue may be on the chopping block and your family member, your friend, your loved one, anyone that is in our life could be impacted by something that is on the ballot this year.”
Professor Elizabeth Washington of the University of Florida believes young voters who did not vote in 2016 will head to the polls in this 2020 election.
“I think that young people realize that the stakes are very very high this time and they may have been disappointed 4 years ago but they see what a difference they can make this time,” Washington, a social studies professor and coordinator of secondary education at UF said.
According to Tufts University, as of Oct. 21, more than 250,000 young voters have turned in their ballots in Florida. For the University of Central Florida political science professor, Aubrey Jewett, a surge of young voters is expected in this presidential election.
“If you look back four years ago, voters who are 18 years old to 24 years of age, made up about 10 percent of the electorate,” Jewett said. “It certainly has the potential to be a decisive voting block in Florida. We are expecting a very close election.”
A key demographic Bacon said could help shape the future of the country.
“The more young people out the better, the more we can have a decisive victory for whatever candidate comes out on top. Overall a win for democracy,” Bacon said.