A textbook lies next to an open Macbook where 23-year-old Nicolas Tobar is catching up on his assignments for classes at Florida International University’s Modesto Maidique Campus. Tobar removes his Miami Dolphins snapback from his head as he explains the daily workload he faces while studying for a business degree.
Classes are the priority, he says, leaving him no time to research candidates running in the upcoming midterm elections.
Like many of his generation, Tobar isn’t planning to vote on Nov. 8, passing up the chance to cast ballots in Florida contests for governor, U.S. Senate, House of Representatives, state Legislature and much more.
“I don’t know enough about it, and I don’t wanna educate myself right now,” said Tobar, who is registered but not in a political party, which is known in Florida as No Party Affiliation. “I have five other classes I’m currently taking.”
The South Florida Media Network canvassed young people in Miami-Dade County recently to speak with Gen Z of voting age (18-25), registered or not, who don’t intend on casting ballots to ask a simple question: Why not?
Lissette Corona, 18, said she’s unregistered simply because she “just never bothered to do it.”
Some of the Republicans, Democrats and independents interviewed said that they would become more interested in the elections if candidates used TikTok and Snapchat to get their messages out since those are the primary platforms that Gen Z spends time on.
“If it was put more on social media, such as TikTok, then we would be more aware. It would leave an impact and more Gen Z would go out to vote,” said Solei Campbell, a registered 18-year-old Democrat living in Miami.
There are currently 157,594 Gen Z registered voters in the county, according to Miami-Dade County voter records.
“I barely hear about elections,” said Stephanie Vanegas, a 19-year-old who is not registered, who also believes more exposure of candidates and races on social media platforms would entice her to register and to vote. “I’m completely not on the side of voting or the news, so it’s on the back of my mind since I’m not exposed to it.”
Paloma Miranda, who is not registered in a political party, said she didn’t even know there was an election coming up. She said she “didn’t hear or see anything in the news.”
In Miami-Dade County, roughly one third of Gen Z of voting age haven’t registered to vote, about 65,000 young people, according to an estimate based on Miami-Dade voter registration records and demographic population data from MiamiDadeMatters.org. The deadline to register to vote was Oct. 11.
Samarri Phipps, who recently turned 18, said she “just hasn’t gotten around to it.”
For her part, Trithao Pham, 18, who also isn’t registered, said she does not see any candidate fighting for issues that she can relate to, and she complained that the process to register is time consuming for a busy student.
She mentioned Democrat Val Demings, who is running against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate.
“I can’t relate,” Pham said about Demings. “I think she’s fighting for older women, but I’m still so young, I’m only in school.”