From iPads to the Polls: How does social media affect young voters?

COLUMBUS, Ga — The words used to describe young voters are all over the map: “Lazy”, “arrogant”, “excited”, “invigorating”.

The stereotype is since posting online is so much easier than casting a ballot — people ages 18 to 25, known as millennials, are using social media to voice their political opinions instead of voting.

Dre Ware is a Columbus State University student and he says he sees millennials as inactive voters. “We lack a knowledge of the power that we can have as young voters and the future leaders of this country,” he says.

CSU Student Government Association President Tyler Davidson says, “People want to do something, but they just see a post that says ‘like this for this to happen’ and they say well okay that’s good enough for me.”

So politicians are changing their approach to the campaign game to catch young people seemingly glued to their phones.

Candidates around the world have social media accounts to update voters for every step of the political process. Social media users respond with thousands of posts filled with political opinions — but is social media really taking young people away from the polls?

CSU Political Science Instructor Dr. Frederick Gordon says no, and in fact overall voter turnout is up in Georgia and Alabama.

“If you look at it, roughly 300,000 more people voted in the Georgia primaries and about 200,000 in Alabama primary,” Dr. Gordon says. “What that translates to is big percentage increases. About 30 to 35 percent.”

The numbers support the increase in voter turnout also means a larger turnout of young voters. In Chattanooga County alone, voters ages 18 to 25 saw a 63 percent increase between the 2016 and 2008 Presidential Preference Primaries.

Russell County Probate Judge Alford Harden says in only two years, there is a 120% increase in young voters hitting the polls:

“What we found was there’s a 120 percent increase in voters 18 to 25. What’s interesting is you expand that a little further, I think we get a little cynicism in there because voters between 18-45, there’s a 50% drop. What that says to me is that people between 25 to 45 they think that their opinion doesn’t matter…And I hear this more often than not “my vote doesn’t matter” … and that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Dr. Gordon says his theory is easy access to information is a contributor to more millennials taking part in election day.

He says social media, “makes it easier for people to access the websites, the knowledge the sound bites of political candidates. Even if you missed it, you really can’t miss it.”

So as Election Day approaches on Tuesday, May 24, Columbus local Kaity Baker calls on her fellow millenials to remember … every vote counts, “Every single vote matters because every single person matters, all our opinions matter.”


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