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Red, White & Royal Blue: Supporting Young Voters Through Media
By Chelsea Dong
The film Red, White & Royal Blue features Alex Claremont-Diaz, played by Taylor Zakhar Perez, and Prince Henry, played by Nicholas Galitzine. Alex's arc depicts the need for youth voter interest within Texas. This character is involved with creating voting drives, aiding new voters in registering, and visiting media outlets to discuss the voice brought on through voting.
Alex’s interest in youth voting, in comparison to his mother President Ellen Claremont (played by Uma Thurman) during her reelection campaign, demonstrates how a new voter turn-out can affect elections. Only able to win when finally concluding the 2020 election cycle with 301 301 electoral votes, President Claremont receives the support of Texas, largely in part due to Alex's work to mobilize 1 million first-time voters. While certain states turning blue or red may not be accurate within the movie, the story offers insight into how all parts of society should be involved in the process of voting. Media, stories, and narratives that involve this conversation of voting promise more new voter consciousness of how inclusion becomes a necessity in both personal and political identities.
The Administrations and Cost of Elections Project voices the need for the emergence of youth in politics since "inclusive political participation is not only a fundamental political and democratic right but also is crucial to building stable and peaceful societies and developing policies that respond to the specific needs of younger generations."
However, structural obstacles remain through the complicated process of youth voter registration, the struggles of lacking enough information, and facing barriers to vote, as reported by Tufts University. Almost 1/3 of the youth voter population did not vote in 2022 due to not having enough information on where to vote or who to vote for (21%) or issues with in-person and absentee voting (9%). One in five youth mentioned having trouble registering, as 21% answered not knowing how to register, missing the registration deadline (9%), or having issues accessing the voter registration application (4%). Among the youth (18-29) surveyed on why they did not register in 2022, many reported that the matter of registering was "not important to me" (25%) or they "didn't have time" (17%) and "forgot/was too busy" (38%).
Politician Bushra Amiwala on PBS mentions her experience running for office on Cook County's Board of Commissioners. She emphasizes "Young voters care about all the same issues that any other voter would care about. The difference is that young voters are not at the center of traditional politicians’ strategies." In creating stories, new films, and new avenues of introducing youth to vote in media, the growth of new voters exists through enabling social media strategies, normalizing the process of registering to vote, and educating through the films we consume as audiences on the screen. We see how the actors who represent the stories in our lives streamline actionable change, how we create change by registering more voters and curating stories demonstrating how we can exist to enable movements of change. As politician Amiwala states, “We leaned into social media as a tool to mobilize first-time and young voters who found my campaign online and decided to follow it based on what they saw.” Social media promotes the films that have created incentives to change the world we have existed in.