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Happy Election Day
The first Gen Z candidates for Congress are on the ballot. Across the country today, there are events and campaigns geared at getting more young Americans to the polls.
Election Day is finally here. Strategists and organizers have been working day and night to turn out young voters, and many young Americans have already cast their ballots (more than 2 million young Americans cast early vote ballots, according to data from Target Smart).
Check out this video shared by Voters of Tomorrow’s Victor Shi taken at an early vote polling location on campus at the University of Michigan:
Across the country today, there are events and campaigns geared at getting more young Americans to the polls. Here are a few:
The Students Learn Students Vote Coalition and Campus Takeover are partnering with Lyft to help students get rides to polling locations. According to Students Learn Students Vote: "Students who use the code CAMPUSTAKEVOTE can access one free ride for up to $20 to their polling place.” And, non-students who use the code "VOTE22" can get 50% off a ride to the polls.
Speaking of voter transportation, cultural organizing organization Harness is hosting an Election Day horseback ride to the polls in Navajo Nation and an Election Day bus tour and motorcycle ride (along with Stacey Abrams’ Fair Count) in Coweta County, Georgia.
Pizza to the Polls’ Election Day “on-demand program” is up and running. Voters can report long lines at Polls.Pizza to receive free pizzas. “Send us reports of long lines wherever people are doing their civic duty and we'll send in the delicious reinforcements,” Pizza to the Polls says on its website.
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Gen Z candidates on the ballot & Chatting with Maxwell Frost
Today marks the first time Gen Z candidates will appear on federal general election ballots. Maxwell Frost, who is 25, is the Democratic nominee for the U.S. House in Florida’s 10th district, and Karoline Leavitt, also 25, is the Republican nominee for the U.S. House in New Hampshire’s 1st district.
I spoke with Maxwell last night, following a day of GOTV work at University of Central Florida and a “salsa to the polls” event, just before he got a quick pre-Election Day hair cut from his barber.
On Election Day, as he has throughout his campaign, Maxwell will spend time with young voters (and traverse the district to talk with voters of all ages). First thing this AM, he dropped off GOTV literature for UCF students. Later this afternoon, he’ll host a press conference on UCF’s campus with Manuel Oliver, a gun violence prevention activist who lost his son, Joaquin Oliver, in the Parkland school shooting.
Here are some highlights from our conversation, cut down and edited for brevity:
Rachel: What is your message to Gen Z, about how you will represent them in Congress?
Maxwell: “I didn’t run to represent Gen Z, but it’s a big part of the story, and I’m cognizant of that. My message to folks is, I think, number one, my presence. But, number two, fighting for our generation and future generations after us is what I’m going to be doing in Congress. And so, fighting to ensure that as far as the climate crisis is concerned, that the cost of not doing anything is far greater than the cost of taking bold action. As far as gun violence is concerned, ensuring that we’re just upping the standard of living in our country so folks don't feel the need to use guns to solve their problem in the first place. Making sure that people have healthcare by virtue of being human and nothing else. And really, just my whole platform. I mean, it's really for everybody. But I think specifically, it excites young people because it's more about, you know, we look at the world around us and we're just asking a lot of questions about why these things don't already exist – and they do exist in a lot of other countries in the world. And so I plan on fighting for that and really bringing the perspective as a young person to the table.”
Rachel: We’re asking a lot of questions, what’s your biggest question? If you win tomorrow, and you’re elected to Congress, what’s the first question you want to see answered?
Maxwell: “Why is everything so messed up? You know what I mean? But I think we know the answers, right? There are corporate interests, there is greed, there is the lust for power, and all these things combined that have created this system that's not broken, but that is working for the most wealthy people and the people who have the most power already. And I think the question I ask myself, and that I don't have the answer to wholly is, ‘How do we get that power and give it back to the people?’”
Rachel: What was the most surprising thing about your campaign?
Maxwell: “How inaccessible being a candidate is… it’s obvious to me why our elected officials are usually people that come from wealth, are usually people who are already independently wealthy, because they have the means to run their campaign based on their livelihood, even when they're not making any money.”
Rachel: What was the most fun part of your campaign?
Maxwell: “The supporters and the movement we got to build here, because I just come from the movement world. I really believe in bringing people together around shared values and just seeing the excitement.”
Gen Z candidates are also running for state and local seats across the country. As I wrote about for Teen Vogue, Democrats Sam Lawrence, who is 19, is running for the Ohio House of Representatives, and Nabeela Syed, who is 23, is running for the Illinois House of Representatives.
There are a number of Gen Z Republicans running for state and local office too. Run Gen Z, a group that recruits, trains, and mentors young conservatives running for office in down ballot races, has supported candidates like Kaitlyn Ruch, who is 18 and running for the Montana House of Representatives, Daniel Singh, who is 25 and running for the Wyoming House of Representatives, and Mazzie Boyd, who is 24 and running for the Missouri House of Representatives. In Illinois, Jazmin Wingert, who is 18, is running for Stephenson County Clerk.
Take a look at all of Run Gen Z’s first time candidates below:
Asked about the candidates Run Gen Z has supported and their prospects on Election Day, Mason Morgan, executive director of Run Gen Z, said:
“Since Run GenZ’s official launch in January 2021, our team has had the honor of working with some of the country’s best and brightest. Much of our work these last two years has been focused on empowering, recruiting, and mentoring young conservatives for November 8th, 2022. It is hard to put into words how proud Joe Mitchell and I are of the Run GenZ Trailblazers from across the country who have taken their next step from ACTIVIST to CANDIDATE. Run GenZ looks forward to tracking election returns for more than 40 state, county, and local elections happening on Tuesday night. It has been an honor and a pleasure to play a small role in the development and mentorship of these young conservatives who will one day be serving this country from the halls of Congress – and perhaps even the White House.”
For up to date youth vote numbers, check out CIRCLE
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts’ Tisch College will be posting data and analysis on youth vote numbers starting tonight. According to CIRCLE, here’s what you can expect from the group in the next couple of days:
CIRCLE’s exclusive day-after (Nov. 9) estimate of youth voter turnout will be the first reliable measure of how many young people cast ballots in the election
Analysis of youth vote choice: How young people split their votes between Democrats and Republicans, nationally and in key states, compared to older voters
Spotlights on the Senate and Governor races where young people had the biggest impact on election results
Youth vote in the news 🗞
Midterms are trending on TikTok. No, not those midterms., Kat Tenbarge for NBC News
Cyrus Beschloss: Expect 'record-busting' youth vote, but 'too few' to be comfortable as a democracy, Andrea Mitchell Reports, MSNBC
Gen Z voter turnout will show just how influential influencers really are, Samantha Chery for The Washington Post
Karoline Leavitt wants to be Gen Z’s conservative voice in Congress, Marianna Sotomayor for The Washington Post