It’s been less than nine months since a man opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people. Many of the young survivors have since started a movement speaking out against gun violence.
Now, survivors and the families of victims are heading to the polls, and they have a common message for the millions of Americans joining them.
“Vote in every election like it’s your last because it very well could be,” Emma Gonzolez, the 18-year-old Parkland survivor and co-founder of March for Our Lives, said. According to CBS 4 Miami, Gonzalez addressed a crowd in Tallahassee on Monday in a final plea for Floridians to vote for candidates that support stricter gun laws.
Gonzalez joined another Parkland student survivor and March for Our Lives co-founder, David Hogg, in a powerful op-ed in the Washington Post, stressing the importance of the youth vote:
On Election Day, we can turn that conviction into lasting change. When young people are told to vote, it’s often from an outside, almost parental, perspective — it’s a lecture about their civic responsibility, as if casting a ballot is some chore they’ve forgotten. But for the past month, we’ve visited college campuses across the country, walking up to strangers who don’t recognize us or know our story, and talking to them as peers.
Parkland survivor Delaney Tarr shared on Twitter on Tuesday that she voted for the first time.
“Vote for the 17. Vote for every victim. Vote because you have to,” she wrote.
Today is the day guys. It’s our time to prove our power. To take all our anger and make it something real.
Vote for the 17. Vote for every victim. Vote because you have to.
Let’s do this. ✌??✊?
— VOTE TODAY!! (@delaneytarr) November 6, 2018
Families of the young victims spoke out as well, sharing photos of their lost loved ones. Fred Guttenberg — whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was killed in the shooting — said his vote was for his daughter.
“I have dedicated every minute since Feb 14th to my fight for Jaime and for our country where we begin to deal with gun violence,” he tweeted Tuesday. “Today, we VOTE!!! TODAY, I VOTE FOR JAIME!!!”
I have dedicated every minute since Feb 14th to my fight for Jaime and for a country where we begin to deal with gun violence. Today, we VOTE!!! TODAY, I VOTE FOR JAIME!!!#OrangeRibbonsForJaime#OrangeWaveInNovember pic.twitter.com/BS7AQd9kiK
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) November 6, 2018
Andrea Ghersi, the sister of Parkland victim Joaquin Oliver, tweeted Tuesday: “Vote for GUAC I don’t need to remind you that he CAN’T”.
Vote for GUAC I don’t need to remind you he CAN’T pic.twitter.com/Lmlg3IbQtP
— Andrea Ghersi (@ghersi_andrea) November 6, 2018
Many of the Parkland survivors and their supporters have been working around the clock this week in the final days before the election as Florida faces tight Senate and gubernatorial races. Their main message is participation.
As Hogg and Gonzolez closed their Washington Post op-ed on Monday: “We must vote because the day after the election, the real work begins.”