It's not a secret that young people rarely vote; the 2008 election has been accepted as the exception to the norm: even during a good year, the turnout among the youth stays low. According to data released by CIRCLE, a nonpartisan research center at Tufts University, even in the 2008 election, only around half of people aged 18 – 29 actually voted.
Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but it turns out that around 20 percent of young voters actually forget to go to the booths and cast their vote. Since research is not always an exact science, the actual reasons for this happening are up for debate. Maybe personal problems become that distracting, maybe some kids just don’t feel like leaving bed that particular Tuesday, or, being young voters, they’re just not in the habit of voting, and so, they forget.
Since young voters tend to be the ones in college or traveling in search of a job, not being home can be a huge reason they don’t bother going to vote. If they’re temporarily living in a dorm, changing their polling address becomes a hassle (my own brother didn’t do this – he opted to take the bus home. Note: he lives in the same city he goes to college at). If they’re moving, they may just not get around to officially changing their address and updating their polling cards in time.
3. Young voters see no point in voting for people they don’t trust.
I don’t think anyone really trusts governments these days, assuming they ever did – but the youth do so even less. And in their minds, if they as a voter don't trust a candidate to do what they promised in their campaign, why would they vote for them in the first place? Unable to trust candidates to follow through with their campaign pledges, young voters tend to just tune out elections and focus on their own lives, rather than waste their energy on politics.
Everyone has heard or dealt the idea that “my single vote/opinion/idea doesn’t make a difference.” Guess what? Young people especially have no reason to believe this. Even when they do vote, it seems as if the political game never changes. Would politics actually change a little if young voters were a force for politicians to contend with? Well, we’ll probably never know – not as long as young voters avoid the booth. And yes, this whole situation has definitely created a chicken-and-the-egg dilemma.
There is a lot of information out there about elections, from news sources to fact checking sites to personal opinion and attack blogs. Sorting through the information can be overwhelmingly difficult. Combine this with a poor education system that really doesn’t prepare students when it comes to understanding the history of America’s government or following current events, and you get intimidated young people who are too overwhelmed to really start informing themselves about the process.
6. Young adults are still, in many ways, children.
This really isn’t meant to be an insult, I swear! But think about it. Young adults, despite technically being adults, are still children in many ways. This is not an insult. It’s just true. At the age of 18 and for many of the years that follow, the country itself is probably not a main concern for young people. And it’s not because they’re stupid, or selfish. It’s because young adults don’t have the same responsibilities that people in, say, their 30s or 40s, do. Need more proof? Data suggests that the three factors that truly make a difference in voting are money, marriage and homeownership. Really now, how many college kids have to deal with these things?
In the end, it often seems like the political system affects a young adult’s parents far more than them. Of course, I bed to differ, knowing friends directly affected by the healthcare laws and increases in Pell grant funding in recent years.
But hey, I’m just a young adult myself – what do I know?
Happy election day!
I'm quite content being wrong in this case.