For years, millennials have been saddled with the perception of being lazy, among other things. However, Chicago millennials defied expectations with their participation in the 2022 midterm election that took place Nov. 8.

As of 7 p.m. on Nov. 9, the Chicago Board of Election reported 112,786 ballots cast for those ages 25 through 34. Millennials are defined by Pew Research as anyone born between 1981 and 1996, which would make those individuals approximately ages 25 through 40.

Their voter turnout surpassed the Silent Generation (ages 75 and older) which cast 65,339 ballots so far, and Gen Z’s 30,443 votes. The Boomers—composed of those born between 1946 and 1964—accounted for the most votes with 200,000 ballots cast.

Interestingly, voting decreased in Chicago since the 2018 midterm elections—possibly because of all the new polling places in the city, among other factors. Out of 1,540,821 registered voters, 636,931 showed up to the polls, meaning that Chicago’s turnout rate was 41.3%. In 2018, the turnout rate was 60.67%.

Nevertheless, the political showing by millennials illustrate the attitude and power they possess and flex when it comes to social change. Many have criticized the demographic for supposedly being ineffectual when, in most cases, the opposite is true.

For example, in her 2019 column “Millennial voters fail to take their energy to the polls,” Chicago Sun-Times writer Mary Mitchell wrote,“the expected ‘McDonald effect’ that bounced former Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez out of office and pushed Mayor Rahm Emanuel into stepping down never materialized.” She was referring to the cover-up of the fatal 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald. 

However, TRiiBE contributor Charles Preston clapped back by detailing a list of accomplishments by Black Chicago millennials, including the election of Black queer Ald. Maria Hadden to the 49th Ward, and the runoff that happened between millennial organizer William Calloway and 5th Ward Ald. Leslie Hairston. Although Hairston won the runoff, the fact that Calloway and Hairston’s political battle went beyond the general election was another significant feat for Chicago’s Black millennials.

Preston also eloquently stated that the “McDonald effect” was “bigger than any movement of individuals winning office and gaining greater proximity to the mayor’s office. It’s about a people’s commitment to building power and shifting the current political climate to reflect the interests of the protest movement.”

The actions and accomplishments by millennials show how the generation should be taken seriously. And Gen Z activists are up next. They’ve been shaken into action by everything from gun violence and anti-LGBTQ+ laws to climate change, and will continue taking the activist mantle using tools such as social media and, of course, voting.

The 2022 midterm turnout numbers show that politicians must stop excluding younger people from the conversation. After all, young people are the future, and the future is now.

is the Digital News Editor for The TRiiBE.