Back in November 2016, less than half of voters under the age of 21 showed up at the polls. Newcomer Donald Trump was able to beat veteran politician Hillary Clinton into the White House.
This time around, young Americans feel very strongly about voting, according to dozens of interviews and a new, nonscientific poll of more than 100 Florida International University students and others. As Democratic candidates prepare for tonight’s Democratic debate in Iowa, the finding is particularly significant.
Approximately 65 percent of participants in the poll admitted that long lines and taking time off work were their least favorite parts of the voting process.
“The library closest to where I last lived, the line was out the door. There was barely anywhere to park,” said 22-year-old Angelica Kunstmann, a freelance employee for HR and communication services. “That’s an issue [county election officials] have to consider more.”
Another respondent, 18-year-old Jonathan Ramos, added: “I would wait as long as possible [to] vote.”
Other young voters like 21-year-old Nicolas Villamizar, who avoided these problems altogether in 2016 by ordering an absentee ballot, may do it again.
“The last time the elections were around I voted by getting my ballot sent to me through the mail,” said Villamizar.
The survey of 132 South Floridians ages 18 to 24 was conducted predominantly this past October by an FIU account planning class in the School of Communications taught by Professor Grizelle De Los Reyes, who has held management positions at Univision and a New York private firm. She has more than 30 years of strategic marketing, communications and research experience.
The account planning class was geared toward the upcoming elections and attempting to understand the youth voter mentality.
“Probably the biggest election we’ve had in our personal history,” De Los Reyes said regarding the 2020 vote.
Mirroring national trends, young voters surveyed favored Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. They also expressed a desire for information about absentee ballots to be more accessible to voters. Some even believed voting was limited to in-person only.
The study also revealed that 20 percent of participants thought it was possible to vote online.
The FIU study confirmed the findings of a recent poll by the Environmental Voter Project that found those concerned about climate and the environment are the most likely to cast ballots in 2020. Gun control was also a significant motivator for voting.
Some young voters said they are unfairly stigmatized by older generations because of alleged apathy.
“When you’re under 25 and talk politics, people kind of look down on you,” Kunstmann said. “They think ‘What do you know?’ People downplay how much we have at stake.”