Counting Z’s: A new generation prepares to vote for the first time


John Kost

B-A seniors Corbin Nale and Casi Shade read up on President Trump in preparation of the November elections.

Jackson Boyer, Staff Writer

“A government of the people, by the people, for the people,” said Abraham Lincoln during his closing of the Gettysburg address.  America was founded on the idea of democracy, the ability for each person to cast their vote for represented officials. Voter turnout is always a question candidates look at, as well as the issues these voters value most.  

The newest voters on the scene is Gen Z, mainly the graduating class of 2020 (who’s members all will turn 18 before the presidential election).  It is important that candidates look at the issues young voters value and the change they want to see; however, what are these values? 

Looking specifically at Bellwood-Antis’ graduating class, it is easy to find politically active individuals; however, it is likewise easy to find people uninterested in the world’s political climate.  Most of the class is renowned for having deep political opinions on both sides of the spectrum while there are also people unaware of their political preferences.  

“I’m not really into that stuff ,” shared senior Sarah Langenbacher and Brendan Corle said that, “I personally have not been paying enough attention to politics recently.  I do not know enough about politics at my age to vote.”

Senior Sam Gormont feels it is important to vote because “It helps get fair opinions out there.  Voting makes you feel a part of society, and it is a key part of being an American.”

This political activism is on par with the nation.  Young voters are becoming more and more involved in elections,  due partly to their interest in certain political parties and issues.

A large amount of Bellwood-Antis High’s graduating class identify as members of the Republican party, but sprinkled throughout are Democrats and students with no political identity.  The high number of Republicans may be a result of the parenting and culture of Bellwood, and this might not represent Gen Z as a whole. Nonetheless, Bellwood’s new class of voters has issues they want to hear political candidates address.

What are important key issues these new voters have, and how important are they? 

The BluePrint surveyed a sample of BA students and asked about key points, ranking them on a 1-10 scale (1 being unimportant and 10 being most important.)  Many students asked to remain anonymous, even though they were eager to identify their political party and feelings. The results show what Bellwood’s new class of voters care most about, and how they would like political candidates to address them. 

Healthcare- 7

In recent years, the matter of Healthcare has become important across every political party’s platform, and the story is the same for voters at Bellwood-Antis.  Many young voters are concerned with the current system, but the idea of an effective, safe, and affordable healthcare system is similar across the political spectrum. Republicans believe it should be a free market run organization, while Democrats want to provide plans limiting the cost of Healthcare. 

“Healthcare is a must, but it is costly and abused by the sheer unhealthiness of our society,” shared one fututre voter. 

  Also among the debate is pre-existing conditions, but feelings about these are mixed across the board.  

Border Security-  5

The issue of border security has become prevalent since the last election cycle.  President Trump has been building a wall along the nation’s southern border and deporting illegal aliens, actions that have created much controversy, and have become a heated topic in the recent round of elections.  Many of the new Republican voters have the same belief as older members of their party, calling for strong border protection and security. Likewise, Democrats have the same Ideal as the main proponents of their party- exploring ways to make America’s immigrant climate more accepting.  Many non-affiliates to political parties hold strong views of border security. The local contention is a wall, but both parties agree it should be tough.

“It should be tough, but no wall,” shared a Bellwood democrat.

While a Republican student said that, “With border security, we don’t have a sense of power.  Crisi at the border is severe and we need the wall.” 

Abortion- 7

One of the biggest concerns, and ranked one of the highest, is the matter of abortion.  This is nothing new. The controversy of abortion has been around for many elections, and the issue being a major part of many canidiates platforms.  Abrotion has a way of igniting excitement among political adversaries. As expected, Bellwood’s Republicans hold Pro-Life values, claiming the the fetus is a life.  Bellwood democrats held to being Pro-Choice. They deem the women’s choice to be of utmost importance.

 “It is a woman’s choice based on circumstances’ ‘ shared a member of the Democratic party.  Students without a politcal identiy split close on the issue of abortion.  

Gun Rights/Regulations- 6

With recent mass shootings, some happening in schools, has created a unique dynamic amongst parties.  Students identifying with the Republican party held 2nd amendment views; however, they are more compromising than their older colleagues. 

 “The only change I would make would be making the process of getting a gun more intense,” was a compromise one graduating Republican was willing to make. 

 They see the need for minor gun regulations that could save school students lives much like theirs.  The democrats want gun regulations, which puts these high school voters right in line with older democrat voters. 

Climate Change- 6

Scientifically the proof of climate change is there.  However, there is still turmoil among parties making this an issue of importance to students.  Surprisingly, this was an area where Republican students held more liberal views. They see the potential need for a change of bad habits to prevent worsening of this disaster.  This is quite different from the views of older Republicans that fail to realize the growing climate the earth is experiencing. This was an area of concern that many unaffiliated students considered important.  This may be in part to the advances in education offered at BAHS.   

“I believe that we need to do something to fix the climate now, if it isn’t too late already,” shared one concerned future voter. 

Government Corruption- 6

Although unaware of exact instances of corruption.  Students along the three divides (Republican, Democrat, and Unaffiliated) shared a concern with government corruption.  They are aware that Washington can be a crooked place, and the politicians do not always have their best interests at heart.  Students from both sides of the political spectrum believe politicians are abusing their power and not willing to compromise. 

Taxation- 6

The need for taxation is a necessary evil.  While most people hate paying taxes, it is the republican party that is renowned for having the desire to lower them.  However, the democrats of Bellwood-Antis High School do not want to raise taxes, and may even want to see them lessend.  

“I believe that with tax cuts there should be corresponding spending cuts,” shared a Bellwood senior. 

  This is odd in comparison to the entire democratic party that would rather see a raise on some taxes to provide better social programs.  Unaffiliated members of the graduating class likewise despise the need for taxes, and would like to see these lessened.  


All in all, the class of 2020 is well on its way to become productive members of the American government.  Taking what they were taught in civics and history, and converting it into ideas they hold true.    

It is time for the class of 2020 to step up.  To grab the proverbial ‘torch’ and own their right to vote.  After all, it is their future the politicians are effecting.