Spotlight: Vote interest surges among U.S. youngsters, challenges linger

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-08 06:10:05|Editor: yan
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by Xinhua writers Pan Lijun, Gao Lu

NEW YORK/HOUSTON, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- Marius Philippe, 28, a community liaison from midtown Manhattan, asked for a leave from his work and braved the downpour on Tuesday to cast ballot during the 2018 midterm elections.

"I think it's important that we get people elected to political office who we think are going to help us," said Marius in a suit.

Carefully dressed up on the election day, Marius emphasized it matters for youngsters to turn out.

"Vote is part of the process of getting people to be authorized to make key decisions," Marius said, hoping his concerns could be addressed by his voting.

"I'm very passionate about access to housing, health care and employment, because these are the things vital for people to live stable and healthy lives," he said.

Voters in all 50 U.S. states cast ballots on Tuesday in the 2018 midterm elections, which would have profound impact on U.S. politics for the next two years. The votes decided control in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as state and local office holders.


Young voters, like Marius, who were in the past votes regarded as an unreliable group, headed to the polls in record numbers during the 2018 midterm elections.

The number of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 who cast ballots early surpassed turnout levels from the last midterm elections in almost every state, according to several sources tracking early vote totals.

A survey by TargetSmart, a U.S. voter file data provider, showed that with one week until the 2018 midterm elections, the surge in early vote among nearly all demographics, especially among young people, compared to the 2014 midterm elections.

In Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, voters aged 18 to 29 at least doubled their early vote turnout compared to 2014. In Georgia and Texas, traditionally Republican-leaning states, young voters aged 18 to 29 increased their early vote rate by nearly five times or more.

"This is remarkable. In the early vote, voters aged above 50 saw their electorate share drop from 2014 by 7.45 percent, replaced by a surge in younger voters, driven primarily by voters under the age of 30," said Tom Bonier, a strategist at TargetSmart.

Many young adults who felt motivated to vote believed they could change the political map in the country.

Jenan, a 21-year-old college student who cast her ballot in downtown Houston, said: "Voting is extremely important for young people. The majority of people who are voting today are older citizens whose opinions often don't match what a majority of people in America feel."

Julianne, 22, a college student in Houston, said the young people's "votes will be what ultimately affects the world in which they live when they are older."

In Chicago, Julia, 22, occupational therapist at the University of Illinois, said: "I find that it's very important to vote, especially since this person is going to very much impact the future of Illinois."


Frustration and anxiety were part the major drive to the young voter surge, according to some analysts.

"There is a high degree of frustration which is among the motivations for youth acted to vote," Jon R. Taylor, a political science professor at University of St. Thomas in Houston, told Xinhua.

"In my personal opinion, more young people show up simply because they are unhappy with what are happening and with voting they hope to make a difference," said Joanna Dawe, election district inspector at Central Family Life Center, a polling site on Staten Island, New York City.

Vanessa Cater, 30, an administrative assistant for a non-profit in New York, told Xinhua that she had friends who never voted and turned out to vote this time "in order to see change that accommodates all of us."

"We have a lot of different ideas than the elders and we are the future, the youth. It'll make a huge difference because we do have elevated way of thinking more open mindedness," said Vanessa.

Compared with middle-aged or senior voters, young voters especially the college students are more energized by the future rather than their present.

According to some experts, the young generation is new in several aspects.

"They're more likely to be concerned about social issues, about the environment, about global issues," Taylor noted.

"It's really interesting they may not necessarily be strongly partisan as they are saying they are Republican or Democrat, but they tend to be engaged about the community, about the future concerns, about where we are culturally and societally," he added.


While young voters headed to the polls in record numbers, they continued to make up a disproportionately small percentage of the electorate. Because so few younger voters showed up in 2014, new records were easier to set, and it remains uncertain whether they can keep the trend, according to experts.

"I feel that millennials as a group are less idealistic than their predecessors and more absorbed with their non-political social media endeavors. They might turn out to be great commercial entrepreneurs, but they are not political entrepreneurs," said Sourabh Gupta, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Institute for China-America Studies.

To some experts, the rising enthusiasm among young voters is a good start of a long journey, and the the impact may be significant if the momentum continues.

"It might be a beginning. A start. It would be nice it would really be nice to see a higher turnout of younger voters because it would send a message that younger voters are more engaged, that they make a difference," said Taylor.

"You get them to show up even say ten to twenty percent more than they've shown up in the past. That can make a profound difference in races," he added.

(Xinhua correspondents Liu Yanan and Zhang Mocheng in Houston, Miao Zhuang and Xu Jing in Chicago, Wu Xiaoling and Ye Zaiqi in San Francisco, Yang Shilong and Chang Yuan in New York contributed to the story.)