ROCHESTER, Minn. — Jordan Weishaar was supposed to enter the world on Halloween.
Instead, the Mayo High School senior was born three days later on Nov. 3, 2002. Which means that Weishaar's big day, her 18th birthday, and the country's big day, Election Day, are all on the same day, which makes it a very BIG DAY, indeed.
Weishaar is voting in her first presidential election.
Weishaar was in eighth grade four years ago when she began thinking about the first presidential election in which she would get to cast a ballot. She recalled not being particularly happy with either candidate at the time, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
" I can't do anything about this election," Weishaar recalled thinking. "What about the next election? I went to November and, sure enough, my birthday was Election Day."
Weishaar sees this year's presidential election in a similar vein. She isn't enthusiastic about either candidate. But she plans to vote for Democrat Joe Biden. She sums up her reasoning this way: If she brought home a first date with the qualities of a Donald Trump, Weishaar is certain she would be told to consider other options.
"I know money is important, especially right now with the pandemic and things going on with the economy," Weishaar said. "But I also think there's one candidate in particular who is better with people and looks at people like they're human beings."
Weishaar belongs to Gen Z, a youth cohort born after 1996. Gen-Zers are considered good with technology and social media, having never known a world without them, and at multitasking. One in 10 eligible voters in this year's election will be part of Gen Z, according to the Pew Research Center.
"Unlike the Millennials — who came of age during the Great Recession — this new generation was in line to inherit a strong economy with record-low unemployment," a Pew Research Center article said.
"That has all changed now, as COVID-19 has reshaped the country's social, political and economic landscape. Instead of looking ahead to a world of opportunities, Gen Z now peers into an uncertain future," it adds.
Young people have the political heft to decide elections. Millennials and some members of Gen Z make up 37 percent of eligible voters, roughly the same share of the electorate as baby boomers and pre-baby boomers, according to census data analyzed by Brookings Institution.
But young people have rarely punched up to their weight class, showing up at the polls at low rates for decades.
"Young people are a very powerful bloc of voters and they could really change the course of this country if they all voted," Stephanie Young, a chief officer for communications, culture and media partnership for When We All Vote, a nonpartisan nonprofit launched in 2018 by former first lady Michelle Obama, told NPR.
Weishaar is aware of the stakes. As a member of the LBGT community, she frets that Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett's appointment will lead to overturning Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry. She believes that issues related to climate change have been gone unnoticed or ignored for too long.
"I think my generation in particular has been put into a situation where we really need to be looking at our future and just be informed overall," Weishaar said.
Why are elections held on Tuesdays? It has to do with the times and buggies. When the Founding Fathers met for a brief Constitutional Convention in 1787, one piece of business they left undone was when federal elections should be held. States were left to set their own voting dates, which resulted in several decades of electoral chaos.
In 1845, Congress decided to bring order to the madness. Lawmakers nixed the idea of Monday because people would have to travel to the polls in their buggies on Sunday, the Sabbath. And Wednesday was out of the question, because that day was market day for a predominately farming society.
So, Tuesday became the day. And that's the way things have been for 175 years.