Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, carried out a mass walkout earlier today in order to encourage young people to go and vote in Tuesday’s US midterms.
Nine months after the mass shooting tragedy at MSDHS, a grassroots organization urged all those eligible to vote to take time out to go and do so at 10 a.m. amid indications of a large jump in youth voter participation.
Activists have tried to make the midterms a referendum the issue of gun control, and at least 500 schools took part in the walkout, according to organizer Katie Elders.
Emma Gonzalez, 18, who became a familiar figure in the aftermath of the deadly gun rampage as she advocated tightening up US gun laws, said yesterday: “Tomorrow, if you haven’t already voted, is your chance to be a hero for yourself and everyone you love by casting a ballot and participating in our democratic system.
“Gun violence is on the ballot. Our lives are in the hands of the people we elect. “Vote in every election like it’s your last, because it very well could be.”
In the wake of the shooting, Gonzalez, a student at MSD, was one of those who launched March for Our Lives -- an organization aimed at changing gun laws via the ballot box, with the slogan “It’s time to vote for our lives”.
Data this year shows higher-than-usual levels of youth voter registration, with early vote ballots and a survey indicating that 34 percent of young people aged 18 to 24 were “extremely likely to vote”.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student of the school, was charged with 17 counts of murder and 17 of attempted murder after the shooting.