The Rising Gen Z Tide Barnes & Noble Education Survey Finds 94% of Currently and Soon-to-Be Registered College Students Plan to Vote in 2020
Barnes & Noble Education, Inc. (NYSE: BNED), a leading solutions provider for the education industry, today announced findings from Conversations with Gen Z: The 2020 Election Report, Second Edition. Conducted by Barnes & Noble College Insights, the report looks at the attitudes and perspectives of Gen Z college students across the U.S. as they plan for the 2020 presidential election. The 2020 Election Report, First Edition, was released in June 2019.
Early and Mail-in Voting Lead with Gen Z Students
This year’s report shows that, while the majority (94%) of registered and soon-to-be registered Gen Z students plan to vote, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a notable impact on how and why they plan to do so. One third (32%) of surveyed students report feeling nervous about voting in-person due to COVID-19, and more than half (60%) say they plan to vote early or by mail-in/absentee ballot in the 2020 election, compared to just 27% the year before. Among this group, 60% say these plans were a direct result of the pandemic. Despite the fact that early and mail-in voting plans lead with Gen Z students, almost half (42%) say they are concerned about the accuracy and trustworthiness of mail-in ballots.
The report shows that there is also voter registration confusion among Gen Z students, even as registration deadlines approach for many states. Of those students who are planning to register, 39% say they feel uncertain about where and how to register to vote. For the majority (81%) who have registered, there are concerns about the impact of possible campus closures as 15% say they will have to change their registration due to the pandemic.
Inspired by Recent Events, COVID-19 and Racial Justice Top Gen Z Concerns
Already an active and engaged generation, the events of the past six months have inspired more members of Gen Z to get involved. Nearly half (45%) feel that recent events such as the pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests and others have inspired them to become more politically active. It has also shifted the issues they feel are most important for presidential candidates to address, with COVID-19 response and management and racial injustice and inequality rising to the top of the list for 74% and 67% of Gen Z students, respectively. While more than half (59%) identified last year’s top issue of gun violence/mass shootings as important to address, the 12% drop took it out of the top five issues for Gen Z students this year. Addressing the health of the environment – last year’s second-most important issue – dropped to the fourth, with 62% of students identifying it as a top issue. Police/criminal justice reform (63%) and healthcare reform (60%) rounded out the list.