These Are The Issues That Are Really Driving Young Women To The Polls

Millennial women represent 13% of the electorate this cycle, and that's no small thing in a race as tight as this one. With the first female nominee of a major party battling for the White House, and the sexism and misogyny of her rival becoming a major campaign issue, women voters have unique power at the polls this year. And that power isn't lost on them. 78% of millennial women we polled told us that they believed the outcome of this election would directly impact their lives.

But what are the issues driving individual women to vote? We set out to discover just that by hitting the streets of diverse neighborhoods in New York City and asking more than 30 young women what their make-or-break issues were.

Their responses varied: Many women said they cared about issues such as reproductive rights, income inequality, and access to health care. Others said that the biggest motivator to vote on November 8 was to stop Donald Trump from reaching the White House.

Some women told us they felt like they were forced to choose between the lesser of two evils. A few were still debating whether they would even turn up to vote at all.

Ahead, some of the young women we spoke with on the issues that matter to them. Tell us yours in the comments, and most importantly, don't forget to register to vote.

Refinery29 has partnered with more than 50 of the country's biggest women's media brands and political nonprofit Rock The Vote to register 100,000 women to vote. Become a voter today by signing up with #OurVoteCounts at this link.

Photographed by Spencer Heyfron/Redux.
What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"Losing my rights as a woman, to birth control and abortion, and also [voting for] kind of the lesser of two evils, I guess. But as a person with the ability to vote, it's my responsibility to use my small voice to protect also the rights of immigrants or people of color," said Stacy Skolnik, 27.



Photographed by Spencer Heyfron/Redux.
What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"Honestly, I feel like this election is a toss-up. I'm voting more so I can vote and exercise that right to vote," said Tiffany Minto, 20. Nothing is really pulling me, but the urge to vote."
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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"Women's rights. Equality," said Rebecca Lee, 26. "I'm a registered voter [in] Georgia, and in a beautiful world, Georgia will turn blue…[Also], for Hillary to be the [first] woman president, that would be incredible."
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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"I don't really care for Trump, and I really want to make sure Hillary ends up in office, that the right candidate is in there," said Lauren Wilkins, 25. [I care about] women's health — just because I'm a single woman in New York City, [and] I think it's important to have access to health care, birth control, abortion, and other options if necessary.

"And, as a college graduate, I owe a lot of money, and I think the government should do more to help middle-class families pay back the debt."
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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"For me, this election is so much more important than any other election in the past," said Ellen Jenders, 24. There are so many issues that, as a woman, specially, I don't want to take steps back. Closing the wage gap, access to affordable health care and birth control, reproductive rights — those are the most important to me. It's more than being a businessman."
Photographed by Spencer Heyfron/Redux.
What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"I'm just gonna vote," Alice Ofori-Atta, 25, said. "I vote every year."

Photographed by Spencer Heyfron/Redux.
What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"I'm a gay woman, and with an election like this one, we really have to go to polls and make sure that we keep someone like Trump out of office," Christine Correa, 25, said. "I can imagine my liberties just being taken away quickly by a man like that."
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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"I'm a huge animal rights activist," Barbara Sanchez, 21, said. I recently found out that animal rights organizations are going with Hillary and not with Trump — 'cause his sons promote killing animals, and hunting, and all that stuff. So that might be one issue, as well as schooling and education. Most likely I'll go and vote for Hillary because I would rather have her than Trump."
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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"Mostly social issues, and definitely because Trump is a racist — that also drives me," Meryem Hasan, 19, left, said. "I think Clinton is more fit to run the country. I just can't stand Trump being the president."

"As a woman, as a female Muslim — which are two groups Trump has definitely made comments about — I feel it's my civic duty to speak against him and vote for Hillary," Ikra Zulfiqar, 18, said. There hasn't been any candidate more qualified than Hillary."


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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"I don't want Donald Trump to become president. I think we should focus on getting homeless people off the street instead of trying to kick people out of the country," Jameelah Tolson, 21, said.
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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"My family has a long history of women's rights activists. Women's rights is probably a big thing for us. And it really seems like this election, I can't tell my children that I didn't vote if the outcome is what we hope it will be. I want to be able to tell them that I contributed to that.

"Student loan debt is another big one that I really hope there will be a change. I also would love for healthcare reform to be more of an important issue," Martha Kelley, 29, said.
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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"Family issues, women's issues, the environment — I think climate change is a very important issue. Women's issues and child care are very important to me. Just making sure that she is born in a healthy and happy place," Mili Shah, 36, said.
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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"I did early voting — I voted for Bernie. He stands…for everything that I do — he stands for feminism, he stands for LGBTQ rights, he stands for equality between different races. I had never really cared much about voting, and I don't really care that much about politics, but when I heard about him and did my research, I wanted to vote for him," said Nitra Morgan, 27.
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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"I'm voting for Hillary Clinton because she represents herself better than Donald Trump. Someone that has never been in politics shouldn't been able to run for the presidency," said Natalie Mendoza, 19. "On her platform, I agree with what she plans on doing to help parents and the lower class."
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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"Police brutality and the environment. Environmental issues are really big for me — the lack of focus and concentration on that area. It's a little ridiculous we don't focus on things like waste and plastic and recycling of clothing and so on," Jasmine Schutt-VanMeveren, 25, said.
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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"Creating more jobs, and how we're going to turn around this whole security issue," said Christine Nichols, 22.
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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"Basic human rights, women's rights, immigrant rights, criminal justice reform, and health care," said Mary Redmond Read, 31. "[This election] will have a direct impact on my life, and especially if Trump wins, it will have a super negative impact."
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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"There's a myriad of issues, but the main issue is the issue of women's rights," said Kristen Vasquez, 26. I'm very pro-choice and I've been involved in a lot of activism. There's also [the fact] that we have a candidate who wants to throw people out [of the country] — people from my family — back to their homelands. I have friends of all ethnicities who are terrified of leaving their homes because they're afraid something might happen [to them]."
Photographed by Spencer Heyfron/Redux.
What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"We're in a chapter of American history that we've never been in before. I think Trump is terrifying," said Charlene Wang, 28. "I mean, I would have voted regardless, but especially this year. I think it would be a travesty for somebody to just sit at home [and not vote]."
Photographed by Spencer Heyfron/Redux.
What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"Other than the biggest issue being keeping Donald Trump out of the office, which is pretty key, for me, as a woman: reproductive rights, Planned Parenthood, and abortion are pretty key to me. Especially given what the Republican Party would like to do with that. And, as a lesbian, gay rights are important to me, Kaitlyn Watson, 26, said. So, making sure that the progress we've made in the last five years, 10 years — [the repeal of] DOMA, 'don't ask, don't tell' — doesn't get reversed."
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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"Education and the school system and also Black Lives Matter," said Christiane Fox, 19. "Hillary is doing a better job [of] presenting solutions for college students and dealing with racism, too."
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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"Women's issues, reproductive rights, jobs — there's a lot going on with people not being able to make their rent because the minimum wage is so low. It's really hard right now for women, millennials, people of color, [and] minorities," said Tyler Rushin, 23.
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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

Maxine Melendez, 34, said, "Medical insurance, Obamacare — having it or not having it. I work for a hospital, and I'm very big on patient care. A lot of times, a lot of changes with insurance depend on who is in office. We've noticed who has been better for our patients or who has [been] worse. I also have children — two boys. So [it's], 'Am I making a right decision for my children or a bad [one]?'"
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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"I'm voting for Hillary because she is more for the minority groups, while Trump traffics in racism, and I don't think that's cool. [Hillary] has more programs for moms and she wants to lower taxes for us, the middle-class people," Christina Gonzalez, 31, said.
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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"I'm not voting. I have more of a spiritual outlook about this situation. I feel, regardless whether I vote or not, whoever is supposed to be in office will be in office. I'm trying to heal the world by actively going into my community and actively enacting change. Issues like homelessness — that's still a huge problem. These shelters are businesses. And, as far as women and our rights, abortion and all that, I feel there's so much going on. But I feel that we as people should go out and do it, and stop waiting for presidents or whoever to do it for us," Chez Jean, 25, said.
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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

Melody Rabe, 26, said, "In general, foreign policy, American economics, as well as women's rights. But in general, this election is a pretty polarizing one, and there are other motivations making me vote — such as that I couldn't live with myself if I didn't."
Photographed by Spencer Heyfron/Redux.
What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

Jasmine Briscoe, 18 (left), said, "My main reason is the systematic oppression of races and genders. To me, change won't happen if we just sit around and talk about it on social media. Unless we demand change from our politicians and we elect politicians who are going to enact what we want, then change isn't going to happen. With the whole Black Lives Matter, and how people are being killed left and right because of systematic oppression, we need leaders that are going to combat that."

And Kay James, 18, said, "I've been waiting my whole life to vote, and I don't feel passionate about either candidate. I'm just picking the lesser of two evils. This is the first time I'm going to vote in my life and that's big, at least for me."
Photographed by Spencer Heyfron/Redux.
What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"Trump can't win," said Catharine Batsios, 29. "There are too many people that I know and love and care about — and even if I don't know, love, or care about them — there are too many people that are in absolute danger if someone like Trump is put on a pedestal.

"It seems like a moral obligation to vote for Hillary instead of Trump. It doesn't seem like much of a question, really. But those are the big issues: safety, Trump is an idiot, and there's a lot of [President Obama's] policies that are very precarious right now and they need to be continued by a like-minded or sort of like-minded candidate."
Photographed by Spencer Heyfron/Redux.
What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"I can't vote," Paramita Nath-Prins, 40, said. "But I'm coming from Canada, and it's shocking to see the difference here. Things like health care, and now with a baby — I'm lucky I have insurance, but many people don't. Other things like multiculturalism. And to have one of the candidates talk openly about racism is shocking to me. I'm a woman of color, so I find that to be very important."
Photographed by Spencer Heyfron/Redux.
What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"The wages, the taxes, the education for the middle class [are] what I'm really interested in and why I plan on voting this year. For how hard we work in business, the pay rate isn't equal, and for America, that should be different. Also, the most common thing I hear nowadays is: 'My vote won't count.' And that actually motivated me even more to make sure I was able to register and vote this year. Hopefully, I'll make a difference," said Kimberly Brito, 18.
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What issue is driving you to the polls on Election Day?

"Reproductive rights," Shahema Mahtalat, 21, said. "Especially with everything that is going on in Poland and realizing that, even though those issues are a sea away from us, if a certain person wins, we might have to throw those reproductive rights out for ourselves. I see my nieces, and I just look at them like, 'Oh no, I don't want you growing up in that kind of society.' So that's a huge issue."