There are more than 15 million new, young voters in the U.S. since the 2016 presidential election. Research shows those newly eligible voters who’ve turned 18 in the past four years are interested and politically active. Many of this year’s first-time voters will be women. According to the Pew Research Center, women have voted at higher rates than men for almost 40 years.
Chotsani Holifield is one of those politically engaged young voters. The political science major is active in her community and on the Samford University campus, where she’s a member of the Samford Democrats. Holifield, 20, said she’ll cast her first vote in a presidential race for former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris.
“I think that we can use a change,” she said. “I think that race relations can be handled differently as well as other social and human rights.”
Holifield said civil rights are at stake with President Donald Trump in the White House. She is concerned about the abuse of Black people by police and said the Black Lives Matter protests have highlighted the important issue.
Aside from race relations, she’s also concerned about the future of the Affordable Care Act. She said many people in her Birmingham community depend on the ACA for health care options. President Trump has promised to repeal it — but Holified said — he hasn’t offered a replacement.
“So without that or something very similar to it, it can leave a lot of people displaced when it comes to figuring out how they will go to doctor’s visits and take care of health priorities,” she said.
Next month, a UAB student will also cast her first vote in a presidential election. Hannah York is a member of UAB Republicans. The third-year bio-physics major is more than enthused about Election Day.
York said she’s voting to re-elect President Donald Trump. The 21-year-old is pleased with the Trump administration’s work so far. She said her eye is on the country’s economy.
“It’s really important to me to know that I will be entering the workforce in a stable economy. And so far, Trump has provided that,” she said. “He has his shortcomings, perhaps, but the stable economy is definitely not one of them.”
York said proposed Democratic tax increases, among other things, have swayed her to the Republican side.
Some young voters aren’t entirely behind any of the presidential tickets. Latrell Clifford-Wood, 23, is a Stillman College graduate assistant. She said “Trump has to go,” but she’s not completely sold on the Biden-Harris ticket. However, not voting isn’t an option.
“The idea of sitting out does not feel like an action that would allow me to be complete,” she said.
Cliffford-Wood said there’s a lot at stake in this presidential election. That’s something that young voters may agree on, including Hannah York, the young Republican from UAB.
“In general, I think it’s important to vote,” she said. “I can see why someone may not; the tensions are incredibly high, especially because of different social things that have happened this year.”
Clifford-Wood wanted the Biden-Harris plan to take a stronger stand on police reform after the police killings of so many Black people this year.
She’s just not impressed with Biden’s campaign, but Clifford-Wood said she’ll vote for Biden anyway. It’s a situation, she said, Democrats find themselves in far too often.
“Myself and many other people come from this sort of history where we have to make decisions to survive. And I do not think that another Trump presidency is survivable,” she said.
Whether young voters cast their ballots for Democratic or Republican candidates, they understand their futures are on the line. On Nov. 3, they’ll become part of a historic election that’s already breaking records for voter turnout.