What’s Driving the Surge in Voter Registration?

Skylar used to have a hard time buying into the idea that every single vote counts in a country with 330 million people, but, they say, that mindset has changed: “It’s a silly metaphor, but it’s like turning something in late in school. You can get a zero or a 50%, and 50% is better than zero. So having your voice out there is infinitely better than being silent.”

The big takeaway for Bonier, as he wrote in his op-ed, is that the end of Roe is motivating voters to take action in a way that other crises, including school shootings and anti-immigrant racism, have not. What he’s come to expect in politically charged moments, he tells Teen Vogue, is “a general feeling that something has to change” but then nothing actually changes — except now, it seems.

Sammy Kanter, the 29-year-old CEO and founder of Girl and the Gov, a political media company, says she thinks social media is playing a role in the move toward concrete action. “We have this whole world, especially on TikTok, where activists can be heard and provide information and action items,” Kanter points out. “I think there’s hope in activity and action and people having something tangible at their fingertips.”

Girl and the Gov’s podcast highlights stories from moments in time when a single vote made the difference in an election, according to Kanter. That way, she says, people can see that their vote really does matter. 

Maddie Medved, the 26-year-old co-CEO of Girl and the Gov, says the organization is focused on comprehensive civic education: “Something we’ve prioritized is the space between when a voter is registered and the election. You can register them but are you equipping them with the resources they need to know their ballot? We [want to] be that hand they can hold from when they register up until Election Day.”

Sarah, a newly registered 20-year-old voter in Georgia who also asked to withhold her last name, didn’t even know midterm elections were coming until she started seeing campaign signs for 2022. Before that, she thought the next election cycle wasn’t until 2024. But with the rollback of abortion access and the realization that the midterms are so soon, she became eager to register. 

In Georgia, where Sarah will cast her vote, abortion is currently outlawed past six weeks (before many people even know they’re pregnant). “Now that I’m aware, I’m like, ‘Everybody needs to go vote!’” Sarah says. “There are Republicans who are thinking that Roe v. Wade is going to have no effect on the midterm elections, and I think they’re going to find out just how much of an effect it really has.”

Sarah understands how people can feel frustrated by voting in an often gridlocked two-party system. She, too, has felt like nothing ever gets done. But she started to question if a hands-off approach was best when Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh was appointed and confirmed, despite credible sexual misconduct allegations (which he has denied). 

Roe being overturned, and the response from Republican lawmakers and officials, was the last straw. Although the Supreme Court isn’t ruled by voting, Sarah realized that she could make a small difference by registering to vote. Beneath that realization was pure frustration. “Abortion is not anybody else’s business,” she says. “It’s your own business, your own right to privacy within health care. Why are a bunch of 60-plus-year-old men trying to make decisions about my body? I’m 20 years old. These men don’t know me.”

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