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Politics of exclusion: Why Republicans are trying to marginalize young voters

By Lee Cleveland - June 7, 2023

It’s not just poor Blacks – Republicans also want to create obstacles for young people to vote.

During the 2022 midterms, NBC News conducted exit polls that broke down voting results by everything from race to gender to age. Republicans didn’t fare well among younger voters. Voters aged 18-24 went Democrat by 61 percent, while voters aged 25-29 preferred Democrats by 65 percent. And voters aged 30-39 favored Democrats by 54 percent. These figures indicate that the GOP is faring even worse among Generation Z than among Millennials.

However, instead of adapting their policies to appeal to younger voters, Republicans are dealing with this issue by suppressing the vote of college students and other young people. This is a worrying trend that threatens the future of democracy in America.

The GOP’s Gen-Z problem

Piggybacking off the above stats, a Pew Research study dated late last year indicated that 77% of Generation Z voters (those born between 1994 and 2012) supported Democratic candidates for Congress, compared to the 21% that opted for Republicans.

It’s safe to say that Gen Z and today’s Republicans, especially of the MAGA variety, are like oil and water. Hence, there’s one helluva clash.

In an op-ed published by the Daily Beast on May 8, voting rights organizer and former congressional aide Rotimi Adeoye emphasizes that the GOP realizes it has a Gen-Z problem and is dealing with it by “working around the clock to make it harder for students to vote.”

Adeoye points out that voter suppression bills aimed at college students have been pushed by Republicans in Florida, Georgia, and Texas. And such bills, according to Adeoye, use the same suppression tactics Republicans have been using against African-American voters.

This is not a new tactic by Republicans. As Adeoye argues, “Conservatives have a history of suppressing voters they can’t win over.” With a presidential election on the horizon, Republicans are hyper-aware of Gen Z’s voting power. Although young voters in past elections have been inconsistent, Gen Z in the last midterm election put Republicans on notice. And since the GOP can’t win young voters on the issues they care about, voter suppression strategies used for decades to suppress minority voters are now being copied and pasted to suppress Gen Z voting.

The impact of voter suppression on young voters

Republicans will insist there’s no such thing as voter suppression as all Americans have the right to vote.

While they can’t legally take away someone’s right to vote, they can – and are – discouraging voting among certain groups by creating obstacles in the process.

The impact of voter suppression on young voters cannot be overstated. The ability to vote is a fundamental right in a democracy, and when that right is denied or restricted, it undermines the legitimacy of the entire system. Young people are often the most passionate and engaged in politics, and by suppressing their vote, politicians are silencing their voices and preventing them from having a say in their future.

Voter suppression can take many forms, including strict voter ID laws, limiting early voting, and closing polling stations in minority neighborhoods. All of these tactics disproportionately affect young voters, who are more likely to be low-income, people of color, or students.

For example, strict voter ID laws require voters to show a government-issued photo ID, which can be difficult for college students who may not have a driver’s license or other forms of ID. Limiting early voting can also make it harder for students to vote, as they may not have the flexibility to vote on Election Day due to their class schedules.

What can be done to stop voter suppression?

There are several steps that can be taken to stop voter suppression and ensure that young people have the right to vote. First, we need to raise awareness of the issue and educate young voters about their rights. Many young people may not be aware of the laws and regulations that are being used to suppress their votes, and by informing them, we can empower them to take action.

Second, we need to push back against voter suppression laws and challenge them in court. Many of these laws are being passed in states with conservative legislatures, and by challenging them in court, we can hold politicians accountable for their actions.

Third, we need to advocate for policies that make it easier for young people to vote. This could include implementing automatic voter registration, expanding early voting, and making Election Day a national holiday. These policies would make it easier for young people to vote and ensure that their voices are heard.

Finally, we need to support organizations that are working to protect voting rights and fight against voter suppression. Groups like the ACLU, the NAACP, and the League of Women Voters are working tirelessly to defend democracy and ensure that every citizen has the right to vote.


In conclusion, voter suppression is a serious problem that is undermining democracy in America. Young people, in particular, are being targeted by Republicans who are desperate to hold onto power. But we can fight back against these tactics by raising awareness, challenging voter suppression laws in court, advocating for policies that make it easier to vote and supporting organizations that are fighting for voting rights. By working together, we can ensure that every citizen has the right to vote and that our democracy remains strong and vibrant for generations to come.


Tags: 2024, generation z