Some Republicans want to raise the voting age after the strong median turnout of Gen Z
As Gen Z headed to the polls this week, conservative commentators told young voters: please stop.
In Tuesday’s midterm elections, Gen Z came out strong for Democrats, including the first U.S. representative of their generation: Maxwell Frost, a 25-year-old Democrat from Florida. The young blue bloc stunned Fox News personalities, while other conservative voices suggested raising the minimum voting age from 18 (currently enshrined in the Constitution) to 21 or 28.
“The fact that these young voters are becoming so strong in the off-year is very troubling,” Fox News commentator Jesse Watters mourned Wednesday night. “It looks like they’ve been brainwashed. This new generation is completely brainwashed because many of these single women [who] vote 37 prayers for the democrats, they teach all our younger generation in these schools and pollute their minds, and then they grow up and are in their twenties and then they vote for the leftists.”
Exit polls show strong support among young Democrats, typically on issues like climate change, reproductive rights and guns. Voters aged 18 to 24 (all of whom are Gen Z) voted 61 percent Democratic, while the 25 to 29 age group, some of whom are Gen Z, voted 65 percent blue, exit polls show.
Tufts University research The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) suggests that 27 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds voted in the election. It is the second highest youth turnout in mid-term history, Al Jazeera reported.
Frost, the Florida representative-elect, said his generation is fired up about the demolition Roe v. Wade, and economic issues like student debt.
“We’re seeing young people look at the economy through a very specific lens, looking at things like crushing debt, not because we’re living beyond our means, but because we’re deprived of the means to make ends meet,” Frost told the Daily Beast. He pointed to President Joe Biden’s student debt relief program as a win with young voters.
Other Fox stars acknowledged the right’s weakness for young people. “We have to win over voters outside of our traditional base,” Fox News host Laura Ingraham she said on her program Wednesday night. “That means young people too.”
Young voters’ support for Democrats actually softened between 2018 and 2022, exit polls show. Democratic support among the 18-29 age cohort fell seven points between the two elections, according to a CNN analysis of exit polls. But virtually all demographics moved to the right in this election, with Democratic support taking a bigger hit in other age groups such as 30-44.
“Let’s raise the voting age to 28. If I were still 18 I would support this.”
Other conservative voices were less rosy about winning the youth vote. In a now viral series of tweets, anti-Muslim activist Brigitte Gabriel proposed that America’s youngest voters be barred from the polls.
“Raise the voting age to 21,” Gabriel tweeted, immediately after noting that “we were promised a red wave and got a red puddle.”
She went on to tweet that “Gen Z thinks street drugs should be legal. Generation Z also believes that speech that offends them should be illegal.”
Although Gabriel did not specify which drugs, Gallup poll last year it was found that 68 percent of Americans (including 50 percent of Republicans) support the legalization of marijuana. And despite a strong push by Republican lawmakers to ban educational materials about race and gender, Gen Z students overwhelmingly support strong free speech rights, Polls show in 2022.
Not to be outdone, conservative talk radio personality Peter Schiff suggested kicking out current Gen Z voters entirely. “Let’s raise the voting age to 28. If I had another 18, I’d support this,” the 59-year-old tweeted.
The current 18-year-old voting minimum is guaranteed by the 26th Amendment to the Constitution, which was passed in part because the Vietnam War draft drafted people too young to vote.
Frost said he wasn’t shocked to hear talk of disenfranchising young voters. He compared the conversation to existing measures that make it harder for people of color to vote.
“When voters don’t vote in their favor, what do they want to do?” he asked. “Change the votes, change the electorate, change the people who can vote. That’s why we’re seeing these horrible voter suppression laws being pushed by the GOP to suppress the votes of black and brown people, to put it bluntly.”
“I think the GOP is doing the math,” Frost added, “”half of these people can’t vote yet. What does that mean for us in the future?”
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