Young People Play Decisive Role in 2020 ElectionGen Z takes activism from the streets to the ballot box, securing key wins
November 6, 2020
(Washington, DC) — Statement from Kimberly Inez McGuire, Executive Director of URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, in response to President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory in the U.S. Presidential election:
“We voted, we waited, and now we have the outcome: thanks to historic voter turnout and the tireless organizing of Black women and young people of color, Kamala Harris will become the first Black woman to take office as Vice President alongside Joe Biden, who will become the 46th President of the United States. According to data from CIRCLE, young Black, AAPI and Latinx voters, respectively, voted for Biden by overwhelming margins of 77, 72, and 49 points.
“No more can young people be shamed or blamed for their civic participation. This year, amid a global pandemic and despicable voter suppression, young people took their activism from the streets, to social media, and ultimately the ballot box. Young queer and trans folks, and young Black, Latinx, and AAPI people registered and voted in droves, reclaiming their right to our democracy. In Georgia, Texas, Ohio and elsewhere, we see the present and future of young people power.
“We have much to celebrate:
- Alabama vote widely voted to begin purging racist language from its state constitution;
- California restored voting rights for formerly incarcerated people;
- Columbus, OH residents strongly approved the creation of a Civilian Review Board to carry out independent investigations of police misconduct;
- a ballot initiative to ban abortion later in pregnancy failed in Colorado by wide margins;
- young trans people were elected to office in historic firsts in Delaware and Vermont;
- Mauree Turner, 27, was elected to Oklahoma’s state House, becoming the first out non-binary state lawmaker in the U.S. and the first Muslim to serve in Oklahoma’s state legislature;
- four Native women seeking election or reelection in Kansas all won their races: Ponka-We Victors; Stephanie Byers; Christina Haswood, 26; and Sharice Davids; and Ayanna Pressley, 46, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 31, Ilhan Omar, 38, and Rashida Tlaib, 44, the young, progressive lawmakers popularly known as “The Squad,” were all overwhelmingly reelected to the U.S. Congress.
“Throughout 2020, URGE organized and mobilized young people in Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Ohio, Kansas, and California. Our voter engagement program, which reaches many young voters in the South and Midwest who are ignored by traditional outreach, used phone banking and innovative digital organizing strategies to talk to young people and help them make plans to vote. Ultimately, we spoke directly with 16,128 young voters, thousands of whom, in addition to voting, signed up to join URGE’s young people’s movement for reproductive justice. We also distributed voter resources to support young people in navigating voter suppression and COVID-19 safety concerns.
“An election is not an ending, it’s a step on the road to liberation. We will keep building young people power to hold these lawmakers accountable for their promises, and more importantly, for our vision for reproductive justice. We will demand immediate action on issues of greatest concern to young people: a real plan to stop the pandemic, protections for abortion access, universal health care, and meaningful progress to tear down the white supremacist power structures that terrorize, imprison, and impoverish Black and brown people so that we can rebuild this nation for all of us.”
In a hard-fought battle that upset assumptions about the electoral map, an unprecedented wave of young Black and brown voters rose up to demand change and claim their rights to our democracy. In Texas alone, more than one million young people under age 29 had already cast their ballots before Election Day. And, in Georgia, young people made up 21 percent of all voters. Young Black voters in Georgia voted 90% for Biden and 9% for Trump.
For more information about how young people showed up in this election, see https://urge.org/ElectionReport2020/
URGE envisions a liberated world where we can live with justice, love freely, express our gender and sexuality, and define and create families of our choosing. To achieve our vision of liberation, URGE builds power and sustains a young people’s movement for reproductive justice by centering the leadership of young people of color who are women, queer, trans, nonbinary, and people of low-income. As a state-driven national organization, URGE organizes our communities, provides a political home for young people, advocates for meaningful policy change, and shifts culture, working in states where the challenges and opportunities are greatest.