When a gunman killed 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in February, student survivors were soon embroiled in a heated national debate over gun control. They took up their newfound activism with pride, organizing school walkouts and protests, holding voter registration rallies, and leading an movement of eager young people, many born in the aftermath of Columbine, who had had enough.
On Tuesday, when Americans go to the polls for the midterm elections, survivors of the Parkland shooting and millions of young voters they helped mobilize will cast their first ballots.
“It’s kind of a culmination of everything we’ve been working for,” Stoneman Douglas senior and co-founder of the March for Our Lives group Jaclyn Corin told the Associated Press. “This is truly the moment that young people are going to make the difference in this country.”
Corin, and her fellow March for Our Lives co-founders and survivors David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, Emma Gonzalez, Sarah Chadwick, and Alex Wind, have traveled to numerous cities and attended multiple rallies to encourage young people to vote.
TODAY @AMarch4OurLives will be in MIAMI & TEMPE at Arizona State University
TOMORROW we will be in ORANGE COUNTY at UC Irvine
We will be reminding & inspiring college students to vote! #VoteForOurLives
— Jaclyn Corin (@JaclynCorin) November 3, 2018
“It’s really about tying it back to gun violence or tying it back to immigration or whatever that person is passionate about,” Corin said. “I’ve used that tactic so many times and it has actually worked.”
Indeed, early voting data in states with crucial races, like Georgia and Texas, has shown that the percentage of young people ages 18-30 who vote early has surged past the total number of votes cast at this point in the 2014 midterm elections.
In Florida, home of the Parkland mass shooting, an analysis by University of Florida political science professor Daniel Smith found that, of the 124,000 people under age 29 who voted early, nearly one-third did not vote in the 2016 presidential election. Half were newly- registered voters.
“There are newly energized voters who sat out in 2016, or have registered since then, who are turning out. There’s no question about that,” Smith told the AP.
For Election Day, Parkland students are calling for a national student walk out, co-organized with the youth-led Future Coalition.
They are encouraging students to leave school between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Tuesday to cast their election ballots.