Hometown Voices: Will pandemic, racial unrest affect young voter turnout in Chapel Hill?

Tuesday, September 15, 2020
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Hometown Voices: Will pandemic, racial unrest affect young voter turnout in Chapel Hill?

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- College campuses can be hotbeds of activism but young voters can also be apathetic.

In the 2016 presidential election, just 49.1 percent of voters ages 18 to 29 cast a ballot, the lowest among all age demographics. Four years later, it's possible the simultaneous convergence of a pandemic and racial unrest may boost that turnout.

"Definitely what's going on with police brutality. It's a very personal thing to me," Gabrielle Mills, a recent college grad told ABC11. "Anything with how this pandemic is being handled. That's important to me. I want to hear a comprehensive plan. Something that makes sense and that sounds doable. Right now it seems like talk and not a lot of action."

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Fiona Kincaid, a freshman, will be voting for the first time.

"In the past four years, we've seen a very big divide in our country and there are certain factors that keep making things worse," she said. "I know there are good cops and bad cops but if there's more training and evaluations to get bad cops out that could be something that could help."

Gabriel Suarez, a graduate student, said he's less enthused about any major candidate, and will decide at the last minute if he will vote at all.

"I would say the key thing is what really inspires me. How the proposed leader gets their word out there and how well does he communicate so he can get this nation going forward."

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Historically, Chapel Hill and Orange County are reliable voting blocs for Democrats: Hillary Clinton, Governor Roy Cooper and Rep. David Price all won more than 70 percent of the vote in 2016.

Still, voters warn that doesn't mean this year's slate will get a free pass.

ASK US: What are your voting concerns or questions as Election Day approaches?

For Gabrielle Mills, that's especially key when politicians talk about social justice.

"Some of it seems like pandering. Like with police brutality," said Mills.