THE MODERN VOTER EXPERIENCE
Innovations young adults would like to see in voting
As recently highlighted in our Youth and the Presidential Debate feature, Millennials and Gen Zs (who make up 37% of eligible voters this year) are actively engaging in the political process, and their participation could potentially have a big impact on the election. Given their affinity for technology, expectations for on-demand convenience, and that this is the first time many Gen Zs can vote in a general election, we explored the clear contrast between what young adults are accustomed to versus what is required of them in order to participate in voting. How do young adults describe the voting process? How are they planning to participate and how has their experience been thus far? More importantly, we wanted to learn what their ideal election experience would be. The insights below are based on discussions from within the last week.
THE IDEAL EXPERIENCE
We asked young adults to envision their ideal election experience. What would make the whole process, from registration to voting, easier and more accessible? Ultimately, would more youth participate in politics if the process was more modern and fit into their lives better? Some wanted to vote via an app. Others appreciate getting a text confirmation that their ballot was received. Overall, digitization and convenience are key to getting younger adults to participate in politics.
“[My ideal voting experience would be] fast and easy. Not having to wait in line for a long period. To make [it] easier to vote during the pandemic, I would open more voting areas.” - Liz, 16, MN
“Registering, with no complications, casting a vote, and going on about my day.” - Esinam, 15, TX
“One thing that would make it [the registration and voting process] easier is if you could update your information at any time.” - Chro, 22, FL
“Ideally, we would be able to vote online, but I think that's not going to happen for a really long time because of how insecure it is. Ideally, everyone would be already registered and there would have to be a polling place every so many miles depending on population density. I would also like an increase of funding for the post office around that time of year so they could have temp workers or something to help them process votes more efficiently.” - Melissa, 22, FL
THE CURRENT PROCESS
The concept of using paper ballots to vote dates back to the 1800s, and certainly has not been modernized to meet today’s typical consumer journey. Speed matters to young adults who are accustomed to a frictionless customer journey, and here, the voting process is falling woefully short.
“I think more comprehensive voting/government education would help.” - Ari, 16, CO
“I think it [voting by mail] is the best option considering the pandemic. But it certainly makes the whole voting process more difficult.” - Ikram, 18, IL
“My main question is, why do we have to register to vote in the first place? Most if not all people have some sort of records, like tax records, drivers licenses, unemployment/disability, etc. If the government can automatically register all males for the draft once they graduate high school, why can't they register them to vote too?” - Melissa, 22, FL
“I'm disabled so [voting by mail] is easier. I think it's safe and convenient.” - Danita, 19, PA
YOUNG ADULTS DESCRIBE THE 2020 ELECTION PROCESS
We asked young adults to describe the 2020 election process to us in three words. Above is a summary of their responses, which are formulated in a word cloud. The voting process isn't easy: "stressful," "complicated," and "annoying" are words that come up frequently in our discussions (alongside more positive ones such as "empowering" and "important").