The Daily Gamecock

Gen Z at the ballot box: Students, faculty share how college students could influence 2024 election

The 2024 presidential election is kicking into gear, and for some college students, this will be their first chance to show their presence in the political world. 

The pool of Generation Z voters, those born between 1997-2012, have grown significantly since the last election, which based on turnout rates could sway the election, said Kirk Randazzo, a professor and the department chair for the Department of Political Science.

According to an article by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement predicts that about 8 million individuals are aging into the voting pool for this election, bringing the total Gen Z vote to around 41 million members.

About 41 million members of Gen Z will be able to vote in the 2024 election, about 8 million more than in 2020, according to an article by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

Gen Z could make up one of the largest voting blocks in this election, Randazzo said.

“Joe Biden basically won five swing states with less than an 80,000 vote margin. Think about the number of Gen Z individuals in this country right now who are eligible to vote. It's a whole lot higher than 80,000,” Randazzo said. “So if Gen Z turned out in large numbers, I think they basically can swing the election one way or the other.” 

Thomas Costa is a third-year political science student and is the club ambassador and liaison for the College of Republicans on campus.

Costa said he stays informed when it comes to politics and believes that this election could shape up to be very important. He said Gen Z thinks it is important to talk about actual issues and focus on the problems they want fixed.

People are very involved in speaking about issues and getting involved in political campaigns, no matter what side of the political spectrum they lean towards, Costa said.

I’ve never met someone who has a neutral view on politics,” Costa said. "I don't see people in the middle ground anymore." 

Noah Lindler, a third-year aerospace engineering student and the vice president of the College of Republicans, said he thinks that much of Gen Z has polarized opinions when it comes to political issues such as foreign policy, immigration and abortion rights, he said.

Gen Z members want their voices heard, which makes them a deciding force in politics, Lindler said.  

I really do think that our generation is what’s going to, either in this election or the next election, we’re going to be the big swing tide of it,” Lindler said. “Both parties are going to really have to push towards our generation if they want anything done.” 

Nicole Hamilton, a third-year political science student, is the founder and president of Democracy Matters, an on-campus organization dedicated to promoting voter rights and the importance of making informed political decisions.

Gen Z is often also recognized by their access to the internet and social media, she said.

Social media can be a leading force in this election if candidates take the time to build their platform.  But it can also be a channel, she said, for misinformation to spread over platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook.

While social media is one way to be informed, people should look at reliable sources for accurate information about this election, she said. 

It will be a driving force in the way that people might be making less informed decisions than they should be,” Hamilton said. “People might be relying on (social media) more than the actual sources they should be relying on.” 

Andre Chang, the president of Young Americans for Constitutionalism, said he believes it is important to put in the work to stay informed and do more when it comes to the election. 

“You have to put in the effort. You have to go out to vote, for example, or you have to go out and spend your personal time to study candidates, study policy,” Chang, a fourth-year business economics and political science student, said. "I think a significant portion of our generation are not willing to do the busy work."  

Eric Center, a third-year geography student and the vice president of College Democrats, said he believes that one of the best things students can do for America's democracy is to turn up and vote. 

"If we want to have a fighting shot at keeping our rights or democracy, then we need to turn out more," Center said.