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Democracy: Where Teens Can Set the Trend

Updated: Oct 3, 2022

By Samantha Delman

My father has affectionately compared my phone to Tony Stark's Arc Reactor - the heart that keeps Iron Man alive - as he likes to joke that it’s an extension of my body, inseparable from my day to day as a senior at the University of Pennsylvania.

It is. My childhood was defined by growing up alongside every iteration of trending technology, from the Apple iPod Mini (1st Generation) to the Airtag, Apple Watch, and the seemingly endless stream of new-and-improved smartphones and tablets marketed each year. For my generation, many of us feel lucky that unlimited information and knowledge has been readily accessible for our entire lives. Quite literally, it has always been right at our fingertips.

So what if... instead of working against us, democracy worked with us? By registering thousands of youth voices in school, it empowers us to be (and vote for!) the change that we want to see in the world, just like the saying tells us to do. Social media has been shown to be an incredibly powerful tool, and if nothing else, at the very least, the algorithm may know us better than we know ourselves.

So why not use this to our advantage? What if young voters were given assignments in school that could make the next big TikTok trend participating in democracy? What if our Instagram reels were inundated with voter registration information in a goofy, fun, easily digestible format?

This generation is attracted by ease, accessibility, and mobility - which is the opposite of how the current voter registration process works, and not exactly how anyone would describe the dissemination of accurate election - related information. We are a notably impatient group of individuals, as we’ve always been taught to strive for something faster, better, and more advanced. The speed of the internet is incredibly attractive when you can find anything and everything you want at the touch of a button (or just by scanning your face ID).

Just think about how our voting culture would change if 18-year-olds were registered in school. Just one example: A social media campaign accompanied by easily scannable QR codes around high schools, something many restaurants have also adopted during the pandemic, would capitalize on the aspects of modern technology that appeal to eighteen-year-olds. This type of easily available information online, coupled with a simple and accessible opportunity for registration via QR codes in schools, would serve as an effective mechanism for turning out the youth vote in Pennsylvania

Samantha Delman is a Georgia native with a passion for freelance journalism, photography, and social media content creation as a tool for political communications and voting rights activism.

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