Lin-Manuel Miranda, Michelle Obama, and 14 Other Change-Makers Share Advice They'd Give First-Time Voters

In what might be one of the most critical elections of our lifetime, many Americans will be casting their vote for president for the first time this November. With young people making up 37 percent of eligible voters in 2020, according to the Brookings Institution and census data, activism among Gen Z and Millennials is more important now than ever. As our favorite celebrities and change-makers make their voices heard and inspire people to get to the polls — including Michelle Obama and her When We All Vote cochair Lin-Manuel Miranda — we at POPSUGAR asked them what advice they'd give first-time voters for the 2020 election. Read on for their inspiring words of wisdom, and make your plan to vote so your voice is heard this November — whether it's through early voting, an absentee ballot, or showing up to the polls on Nov. 3!

Emilio Sanchez

"The last election — it was really my first time and I'd just turned 18. And it was, okay, here we go. And I didn't realize how much pressure I was going to feel when I'm standing right there and I'm looking at this ballot. And so many things that I don't recognize. And in that moment I realized I messed up. I need to do better. And educating myself on these things was the best thing that I could have done. Because I think putting your pride aside and saying I don't know, is something that's really hard for this generation. Once I got older and I got through that phase, I was like I want to help the younger generations that are going to step into this responsibility when they do turn of the legal age to be able to vote, to feel like it's okay to ask questions. No matter what's in the way, no matter what fears you might have, this is the one thing that we've got, and this is the time to put our big-kid pants on and do what we got to do. And really prepare yourself for what that ballot is going to look like because, again, speaking from experience, when I first went voting, I was nervous, I was scared, and I felt a little unprepared. And I knew I never wanted to feel that way again. So that also, I think triggered a 'Wow, this is the one thing we do got. This is one thing as American citizens we do have which is our right to vote.' Especially as a Latina woman, a woman of color, I got to step up."

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"My advice to first-time voters is to truly look around your community and listen. It's crucial to understand how our voices can deeply affect all of our dreams. When I was a first-time voter, I voted because that's what everyone said to do instead of truly understanding how my vote has the power to decide what someone else can and cannot do. We are powerful, and power starts with exercising your right to vote. I am hopeful our first-time voters will take the time to truly understand what is at stake and continue to educate future voters on how impactful we can all be if we come together."

Shane McCauley

"Do not be disillusioned. Yes, we are in some unprecedented times, and yes, a lot of it can be disheartening and exhausting, but we can never become apathetic. First-time voters should really take pride in being a part of what I believe will be one of the most important elections of the century. Lastly, have a plan to get your ballot in on time and know your deadlines!"

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Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

"There's so much noise out there, so if we can focus on what's actually the reality and the facts of our world and our lives right now and what we are tasked with changing right now, if you can affect one person, 10 people, it's making a difference. Every single person, every individual right now in this election can make a difference."

Michael Kovac/Getty Images

"If you are a first-time voter, congratulations! You are making history! Be proud and be the hero of your dreams. Remember, we have nothing to lose but our chains. You're smart as hell, you are real change-makers, and you're beautiful just as you are. Make a voting plan and vote early if you can. Show them what you're made of, GUTS! And a whole lot of heart! I love you. Thank you."

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Aly & AJ

"Don't let the process intimidate you. It can feel overwhelming especially if you live in a state where voter suppression is prevalent, but the truth is there are so many resources out there to help you! In the coming years, you will see how important it was that you used your voice."

Dominik Bindl | Getty Images

"The history of voting in this country is long and vast and really, really messed up. There's a ton of discrimination and voter suppression that is currently still happening. Voting is a very, very important thing, but it is not the only thing that you should be doing to try to create change. I would encourage a first-time voter to not stop at voting. I would encourage them to discover and explore what it means to be politically active and what it means to create change in their world and in their life."

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Meg Donnelly

"VOTE EARLY OR SHOW UP! There are people trying to trick us into thinking that our votes won't be counted. No matter who you are, if you are eligible and registered to vote, practice that right. Take a few minutes to read how to complete the ballot correctly. It may seem straightforward, but make sure you complete as per the instructions so your ballot is not rejected. And return it ON TIME (check your state's deadline) in the mail or at an official drop-off location. Some jurisdictions even let you track your ballot online. Or show up to your nearest poll and STAY until you vote."

Jessica Marie Garcia

"Do your own research. Learn how to think and not what to think. Our parents mean well, but you don't have to adopt their way of thinking. I understand thinking your voice doesn't matter, I for a long time didn't think mine did either. I had the luxury of thinking older, smarter people got this and I could, 'stay in my lane.' If I could tell you anything, they are most definitely older but not always smarter, and this IS YOUR LANE! This is YOUR COUNTRY, this is YOUR LIFE! Look around and ask yourself if this is the America you want. If it's not, then ask yourself which candidate aligns most with your morals and ideals and make your best choice. PS thank you for voting!"

Shannon Beveridge

"Read up on who you're voting for and do your own research. From a presidential level all the way down to a local level and what's happening in your town. Formulate your own opinions on political issues, and figure out where you stand on your own two feet. I think as young people, we formulate a lot of our opinions based off our environment and the things we hear around us. Our families and friends can be really influential, and it's easy to just go along with what you're absorbing. But really take the time to look into it, figure out what you're passionate about, and on what side of history you want to stand on without being influenced by anyone else."

Rodin Eckenroth | Getty Images

"A lot of young people think that their voices do not matter but their votes count. Do not believe that the president does not affect your life. The president appoints Supreme Court justices and some of the greatest landmark Supreme Court cases affect our individual rights as citizens like Brown vs Board of Education or Roe vs Wade. In Georgia there was a 68 percent increase in youth voters this year compared to 2016!!! That is awesome!!! We can affect change!! With 4 million young voters eligible to vote for the first time in a presidential election we are a force for change. We can't be passive now is the time to take action at the polls."