Things That Matter

Gen Z Is Rallying For A Younger Voting Age In California, Which Would Undoubtedly Shake Up The Upcoming Election

Gen Z are constantly finding ways to make millennials, like me, proud. Young activists in California have mobilized to pass assemblymember Evan Low’s bill, Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8 or ACA 8. The amendment lowers the voting age in California to 17 years old in statewide elections. On August 26, the legislation passed the state Assembly and is now headed to the Senate for a vote.

Should the national voting age be lowered? Age requirements have been an ongoing debate for decades now. The whole point is that in Democracy, we’re supposed to be equal. (Any marginalized person knows that isn’t true in practice, but in theory, we’re all meant to be equal.) In order to vote, there is no barometer for intelligence, and now there is no gender requirement, no race requirement (allegedly, we all know about gerrymandering), and no property requirement. The only real stipulation is age. 

This issue is complicated and obscured by what the collective culture believes is “old enough.” Who is really an adult and who isn’t? Let’s take a closer look.

Gen Z wants a say in their future. 

Fair enough. It’s not like adults have been doing a great job running the world. We’re living in a climate emergency that, regardless of whether we act or not, is going to have massive and disastrous effects on every person on earth. We have President Trump in the states rolling back environmental regulations and President Bolsonaro in Brazil allowing the Amazon to burn. It’s no wonder young people are fed up with not having a say.

In fact, its not the first time the voting age has been questioned. Up until the Vietnam War (1964 – 1973), it was 21. The war which drafted tens of thousands of young people to their deaths, who were unable to vote for or against the war, was one of the most gruesome wars fought in U.S. history. It was young people who mobilized in protest and passed the 26th Amendment in 1971 which lowered the national voting age to 18. 

Meet the people of color leading the charge. 

The 17-year-old activist Tyler Okeke and Luis Sanchez, Executive Director of Power California, penned an op-ed in Teen Vogue advocating for a lower voting age. With Sanchez’s help, Okeke spearheaded a resolution that directed the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District to report on the feasibility and costs of allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in school district elections. In April, the resolution was passed. 

In Berkely, California, 2016 voters approved Measure Y1 lowering the voting age to 16 in school board elections. A similar measure was narrowly defeated in San Francisco, but California is paving the way for this important national conversation. You can now even pre-register to vote online in California at 16 and 17. 

Young people of color are most prepared to vote.

Lower voting age is also a matter of immigration status. Many teenagers are citizens but have parents who are ineligible to vote. A measure like this would be a huge win for immigrant families who would now have family members able to advocate for their interests. 

“Today’s young people, and young people of color, in particular, are ready to use their voices and their votes to bring about positive change, according to recent research,” Okeke and Sanchez wrote. “At 16, young people can drive, pay taxes, and work for the first time without major restrictions. Many young people from working-class communities also shoulder major responsibilities, such as contributing to family incomes, taking care of their siblings, or translating important information for their parents.”

But are 16-year-olds “smart” enough to vote?

Okeke and Sanchez believe 16 is an age where teenagers are more stable and have a good enough civics and government foundation to participate. 

“Research suggests that when young people vote in their first few consecutive elections, the habit sets in — ultimately strengthening our democracy. And statistical evidence has found that the average 16-year-old has the same level of civic knowledge as someone who is 21,” Okeke and Sanchez wrote. 

I am sorry, but have you heard of Malala Yousafzai who wrote an op-ed at age 11 about living under the Taliban occupation and advocated for women’s education? Malala was such a threat to the status quo as a teenager that the Taliban attempted to assassinate her at 15. They failed. When she was 17 she won the Nobel Peace Prize. Have you heard of Emma González? When she was 18 years old, this Latinx survived the horrific Parkland shooting. She then co-founded the gun-control advocacy group Never Again MSD. 

Teenagers have to suffer the trauma of living in a world that adults exploit and oppress, but then they don’t get a say on how to solve any of the problems they’re subjected to? I don’t think so. There are countless examples that demonstrate how intelligent, compassionate, and organized teenagers can be. 

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Twitter’s AIs Prefer Ted Cruz With Boobs And White Skin Over Black

Things That Matter

Twitter’s AIs Prefer Ted Cruz With Boobs And White Skin Over Black

Ever notice how on some social platforms like Twitter or Instagram that you yourself are mysteriously unable to crop your display images on your own? That’s because Twitter prefers to let their algorithms make the decision. Over the weekend users on Twitter discovered the surprising dangers of letting algorithms crop your own images.

Education tech researcher Colin Madland drew attention to the issue while speaking out about how the video-calling program Zoom, often crops the head out of his black person coworker while on calls.

It didn’t take long for Madland and other users to discover that Twitter’s AIs use discriminatory equations to prioritize certain faces as well. In short, the social platform’s AIs prefer white faces over Black ones.

In response to the discoveries, a Twitter spokesperson acknowledged that the company was looking into the issue “Our team did test for bias before shipping the model and did not find evidence of racial or gender bias in our testing. But it’s clear from these examples that we’ve got more analysis to do. We’re looking into this and will continue to share what we learn and what actions we take,” they stated.

Of course, Madland’s discovery is nothing new. In 2019, test results from the National Institute of Standards and Technology revealed that some of the strongest algorithms online were much more likely to confuse the faces of Black women than those of white women, or Black or white men. “The NIST test challenged algorithms to verify that two photos showed the same face, similar to how a border agent would check passports,” Wired points out. “At sensitivity settings where Idemia’s algorithms falsely matched different white women’s faces at a rate of one in 10,000, it falsely matched black women’s faces about once in 1,000—10 times more frequently. A one in 10,000 false match rate is often used to evaluate facial recognition systems.”

Still, it didn’t take long for users on the platform to ask what other physical preferences Twitter has.

Turns out the AIs prefer Ted Cruz with large anime breasts over a normal-looking Ted Cruz.

(To better understand this Tweet, click the link above)

The user who tested the image of Cruz, found that Twitter’s algorithm on the back end selected what part of the picture it would showcase in the preview and ultimately chose both images of Cruz with a large anime chest.

It’s nothing new that Twitter has its massive problems.

For a platform that so controls and oversees so much of what we consume and how we now operate, it’s scary to know how Twitter chooses to display people with different skin tones. The round of jokes and Twitter experiments by users has only revived concerns on how “learning” computer algorithms fuel real-world biases like racism and sexism.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

The Election Is Just Around The Corner: Here’s Everything You Need To Know To Make Sure Your Vote Counts

Things That Matter

The Election Is Just Around The Corner: Here’s Everything You Need To Know To Make Sure Your Vote Counts

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Let’s face it, the 2020 election is shaping up to be one of the most confusing, alarming, yet consequential elections in history. With just a few weeks out from the election, we find ourselves in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, historic unemployment, calls to defund the USPS and a nasty public relations battle which threatens to dismantle safe and secure ways to vote.

States are already working to change everything to accommodate the coronavirus, from stocking up on hand sanitizer to making arrangements to use NBA arenas as polling places. But the biggest difference is mail-in voting.

The president recently said he would reject emergency funding to the USPS because, “they need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots.” Despite voting by mail himself and encouraging his own campaign supporters to do so, President Trump is claiming mail-in voting will lead to fraud, which many critics claim is an attempt to suppress the vote.

Despite the fight over defunding the USPS, there’s still time to ensure the election goes smoothly. Here are the five things you can do now to make sure every vote is counted in 2020:

1st: Register To Vote

Step one is the same regardless of whether you want to vote in-person or whether you want to vote by mail. You need to get registered. You cannot vote in any way without being on the rolls.

Start by going to your local elections website. To find the correct website, you can head to Vote.org, a nonpartisan web clearinghouse for voting information. Just tell the website what state you’re in and what county you’re in, and it will send you information to get registered.

2nd: Request An Absentee Ballot Now

Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Despite Trump’s claims, there is no evidence that voting by mail leads to fraud. In reality, voting by mail is secure and safe. It also gives voters the opportunity to review their ballot in their own time and do research on candidates.

When voting by mail in many states, you have options for returning your ballot. You can drop it in the mail or bring it to your local election office before Election Day. In some states, voters have up to two weeks to drop their ballots off at their polling location or in a secure drop box in their county.

3rd: Have A Plan To Vote In-Person If You Can’t By Mail

Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Studies show that having a voting plan increases a person’s likelihood of voting by nearly 10 percent. Check out your state’s in-person early vote and Election Day voting hours and determine what you need to bring with you to the polls. Before you go, look up your polling place — remember, it may have changed since the last time you voted! Finally, make a plan for getting to the polls. Companies like Uber will be offering free rides to the polls on Election Day. If you can, make voting a family affair or invite a friend to meet you at the polls. Remember: you must be in line by the time the polls closed to be allowed to vote.

4th: Sign Up To Be A Poll Worker

The United States is facing a widespread shortage of poll workers this year due to COVID-19, which could result in closing polling places and long delays for voters. Especially if there are issues with the USPS, we will need more — not fewer — volunteers at the polling places making sure everyone can vote safely, fairly, and efficiently. And if saving democracy isn’t enough, most poll workers also get paid!

5th: Help A Friend

Once you’ve figured out this system, and especially if you’re in a place where lots of people historically haven’t voted by mail, think about helping a friend or offering assistance on social media. You could really be a resource to people who either don’t know what to do or are intimidated by it.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com