Youth activists across America are taking part in a nationwide walkout on November 6th in the midterm elections, called Walk Out to Vote.
The Walk Out to Vote campaign — organized by a group of student activists calling themselves the Future Coalition — are scheduling a nationwide walkout at 10 AM on Election Day to go vote. Activists aim to send a message of unity in response to the epidemic of gun violence in public schools across the United States.
The Future Coalition is a collective of more than 25 youth-led groups, mostly composed of victims of mass shootings like March for Our Lives, National March on NRA, and Shattering the Silence. They’re calling for change in gun laws and asking younger generations to let their voices be heard by casting their vote.
One of the most outspoken members organizing the walkout is David Hogg, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who had 17 of his classmates and teachers killed in one of the deadliest school shootings in history.
Hogg has been outspoken about the need for changes in gun laws following the Stoneman Douglas massacre. He’s since organized a movement called #NeverAgain, which calls for boycotts of companies affiliated with the National Rifle Association, and for sweeping changes in gun control policies that make it easy to obtain a firearm.
“On November 6th, the voice of young people in this country will be heard loud and clear when we cast our ballots together,” David Hogg said in a public statement about the walkout. “You will hear us marching to the polls, and you will see the impact we have when we cast our ballots. And we’ll make this impact because we’re not afraid to work together to make it happen. The youth movement isn’t about one issue or one group. It’s about working together for a better future.”
In the 2014 midterms, only 16 percent of youths aged 18-24 voted. That’s the lowest percentage recorded since World War II, according to Child Trends, a website dedicated to statistics on youth voting in recent elections.
However, 2018 is almost certainly going to see a dramatic increase in youth turnout due to the groundswell of young Americans who believe their voices are not being heard on important social issues. A recent poll by the Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics at Harvard University found that 40 percent of young people between the ages of 18 and 29 say they will “definitely” vote on Tuesday. According to TIME, the previous youth voter midterm turnout record was just 21 percent, in the 1994 midterms.
In Texas, early voter turnout is more than 500 percent higher than in the 2014 midterms, according to early polling. The Lone Star State is home to a key U.S. Senate race between Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), which could have major ramifications on not only the remainder of President Trump’s term, but also in the 2020 presidential election. In deep-blue Harris County (which houses Houston) early voter turnout shattered all previous records.
Georgia has seen a similar increase in numbers despite claims of voter suppression in the state. TargetSource reports Georgia has seen a 478 percent increase in young voter turnout, largely due to a key gubernatorial race. Stacey Abrams (D) may become the first African American female governor in U.S. history if she’s able to defeat Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R), who is facing allegations of using his office to make it harder for Abrams’ supporters to vote.
Brandon Howard is a contributor for GritPost and former public radio reporter based out of Lexington, Kentucky. Follow him on Twitter @mrpowerhoward.