ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Had you asked a year ago, many high school students might not have been inclined to think of themselves as politically engaged.
Politically aware, yes. Gen Z youth – those born after 1996 – live online and swipe through data of the day in significant measure.
But a year ago, the economy was booming, the unemployment rate was low, the world was open and the future looked boundless and bright.
A year ago, they might not have felt the urgency to take an activist role in social changes they believe in such as climate change and gun violence and civil rights that generations before them had left undone.
A year ago, they might have thought there was more time, enough time, to deal with all that.
But 2020 and COVID-19 changed all that.
And this year many of those same young folks know that the time is now.
But the question is how.
Galicia Monforte, a senior at ASK Academy in Rio Rancho, said she knows one way – by voting.
“We no longer can think of the White House as a hypothetical place thousands of miles away and that the government’s policies don’t affect us and our futures,” Monforte said. “We are seeing that we can and we need to make a difference. And one of the ways we make a difference is to vote.”
But, she said, in talking to fellow students who will have turned 18 by November she has come to realize that the very act of registering to vote is perplexing to some.
“That’s not something we’re taught in school,” she said. “And some kids grow up with parents who aren’t politically engaged and don’t vote so there’s no one at home to ask for help.”
So this Tuesday, she plans to hold a Zoom rally for her fellow Gen Zers to discuss the how of it – how to register to vote, the various ways to vote, the reasons to vote.