JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This election year, News4JAX is making a commitment to hear from you to learn what issues matter most through our Your Voice Matters campaign.
News4JAX did that on Thursday by heading over to the University of North Florida to talk to young voters and learn what’s on their minds as the midterm elections approach.
There are about 1.7 million Floridians between the ages of 18 and 24 and about 70% are registered to vote. Some will be voting for the first time and could prove to be an influential force in the coming years.
When talking to potential voters on UNF’s campus, News4JAX quickly learned that abortion was one of the key issues, especially for young women.
“For me a really big one, because I wanted to go into the healthcare profession is like healthcare. The abortion rights is a really big one that’s going on right now,” said Chloe Browning, a 19-year-old sophomore. “And I think that anything that sort of has to do with like, any sort of human rights, whether it’s like the Geneva Convention or especially the everything going on with Roe v. Wade, that’s a really huge one. Because as a female, it’s something that I feel that I should be able to decide.”
“I don’t know why people are worried about what other people are doing with their bodies. They should be worried about how many homeless people there are, how many kids are in foster care,” said student Madelyn Manfredy.
Education also came up as a key issue.
“I think teaching great morals is one of the most important things that you could possibly do. And I think we should be all taught to love each other and respect each other. No matter what,” student Liz McElveen said.
Another common theme we heard is, young voters are sick of partisan politics.
“I registered as an independent,” Browning said. “I think it’s hard to pick a side nowadays because it’s become so polarized. And to me, it’s more about the issues and less about the party.”
Leland Williams plans to register to vote once he turns 18 in five days. He agreed, partisanship can turn voters off.
“I don’t really need to get into politics because it basically puts you in a category that you don’t want to be in and people want to group you to that when you can be a completely different person,” Williams said.
One registered voter News4JAX spoke to said they’re unsure about voting in this election.
“Just because of potential candidates and just wanting to do more research. That does play a massive part because if it’s not ideally what aligns with what I want to benefit from this county I don’t think I want to participate in that,” said AJ Mabutas, a 24-year-old UNF employee.
All of the young people News4JAX talked to today agreed more young people need to vote and be involved, potentially as candidates.
News4JAX Insiders also responded to the question on News4JAX.com.
“I am voting, and I do not understand why you wouldn’t. It’s your duty as a citizen and you should want people who represent you in office,” said Kevin Luhrs.
“I am 30 years old and I have been registered since my 18 year old birthday. And I have vote every time. And I believe it is important,” said another reader.
We are still interested in hearing about the issues most important to young voters. If you want to weigh in, fill out the form below.