PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Members of the so-called "Generation Z" are expected to make a big impact this year on the 2020 Election. More first-time voters and those under the age of 30, say they are planning to cast a ballot.
Since the last presidential election, more than 15 million young Americans turned 18 and are now eligible to cast a ballot for the first time.
Florida's young voters in both the Democratic and Republican parties are mobilizing in large numbers, especially in Pinellas County. They are fighting for issues they care about, like the economy and the pandemic's impact on it, the environment and more.
"We have to go vote," said Johnny Boykins, the Pinellas County Young Democrats President and vice chair of the Pinellas County Democratic Party. "We have to stand in line. We have to register our friends and family. We have to continue to talk about this."
Likewise, young Republican voters say COVID-19 opened voters' eyes to how politics, specifically local politics, affects them.
"I think people are kind of waking up to the fact that this does affect them from their day-to-day life," said Jerick Johnston, president of the Pinellas Young Republicans.
The Institute of Politics at Harvard is now projecting the highest young turnout in a dozen years. In a survey, they found 63 percent of respondents saying they will "definitely" be voting in the general election.
During the last election in 2016, that number was just 47 percent.
The Fall Election 2020 Edition of the Harvard Youth Poll also shows nationally that young voters favor the democratic candidate, Former Vice President Joe Biden, by a more than two-to-one margin. They also say that the post-COVID economy is now their number one issue.
But in Pinellas County, both young Democrats and Republicans agree; one of their biggest issues is the environment.
"We know as a generation, that's gonna be a challenge that we face in our lifetime," Johnston said.
"The number one issue for young voters is climate change," Boykins said.
Both parties continue to use social media to rally younger voters. They say they are working to get young people out to the polls until they close at 7 p.m. on Election Day.