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A Powerful Photo Series on The Evolution of Young, First-Time Voters

Written by REP CO

Photography by Photographed by Smeeta Mahanti

As any parent knows, a child grows leaps and bounds in one year—and within four years, they can feel like a totally different person. It’s over this longer time span that Smeeta Mahanti decided to photograph and interview a group of over 300 youngsters (aged 10 to 17), starting in the pivotal election year 2016, asking them to write a message to the world. In August of 2020, she followed up with 8 of these Bay Area-based subjects, who were 14 in 2016, but are now of legal voting age: 18. “They have spent 4 years at the heart of a revolution,” says Mahanti. “Today, they are gearing up to exercise their right to vote in their first presidential election.”

Get to know four of these stories: the young subjects’ hopes, fears, and most pressing concerns—and how they’ve evolved over the past 4 years—below.

MOTHER is publishing this 2-part story in partnership with REP CO, a brand new storytelling collaborative that covers issues of racial and social justice and is powered by volunteer media professionals. To read their other stories, or to find out how to join them, visit representcollaborative.com.

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