Political rallies and protests have seen a fast increase in youth attendance. Young people seem to be passionate and ready to make a difference in our society, but voting booths are telling a different story.
Youth voting is at its lowest point since it started being recorded. The US Census Bureau began recording the number of young people (aged 18-24) voting in 1964, when it was at 50.9%. In the last presidential election, the percentage of young voters had risen to 31%. The states that had a rise was those that had both a hot-button issue and a competitive statewide race. Two things that motivate young voters out of their seats.
What are the main reasons that potential voters aged 18-24 have stopped going to the voting booths? Do they get taught enough about the voting system? Do they care? Do they even think their vote matters? An article from the Washington Post written by Katherine Rampell reported that a poll of youth conducted by the Harvard Institute of Politics that showed that only a third of youth voters think their vote makes a difference. Katie Fuller, a student at North Iowa Area Community College, expressed her thoughts about it.“I just don’t think potential youth voters really care.” After being asked whether she would be voting, she stated, “I would like not to vote, but I probably will. I would like to think that our votes would affect the decision made by the Electoral College, but I, as well as many young adults just don’t think they do.”
CIRCLE, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, reported that the most common reason for the disengagement of young voters was that they just didn’t care, or didn’t like the candidates or the issues. The report stated that 65% of youth voters responded with that answer. Ashlyn Dahl, a 19 year old college student in Northern Iowa, agrees. “No, I’m not going to be voting in the next election. I just don’t have any interest in politics. I never really have, and a lot of my friends and classmates are in the same boat.”
This brings up the question of whether young voters are educated enough on voting and the amount of influence they wield with the vote. Youth Service America reported that nearly 20% of young voters don’t vote because they feel they don’t know enough about how to vote, the candidates or the issues, or how the government works. The Center for American Progress reported that only 9 states and the District of Columbia require a full year of civics or U.S. government classes. This could be a huge opportunity for our education system to shape the future of our country. There are fresh minds ready for knowledge and information that would help prepare them to participate in things that really matter. It’s also an opportunity for colleges and local politicians to reach out to current youth voters and educate them on how to vote, what the vote means, and the issues being involved. It would help youth voters feel more valued, and give them the confidence to go to the voting booths.
Nadia Jade is a 21 year old college student from North Iowa currently studying Literature and Sociology. She plans on continuing her education at a University in Poli-Sci and possibly pursue a degree in Law.