Voting is a really important part of the democratic process. We all know this, but in reality, many people don’t vote. That is especially true for younger generations who have historically had very low voter turnout rates in the U.S. This is kind of a big deal because younger people have a lot at stake in most elections. By 2020, there will be an estimated 22 million teens who are eligible to vote in their first elections, making it so that people under the age of 29 will represent the largest voting bloc in America. So, why don’t young people vote as much as older people?

There are many reasons young people don’t vote, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t politically active in other ways. Young people are engaging with the political process by protesting, boycotting, and posting to social media. While these actions are all great, the question still stands as to why young people are willing to take certain actions but not necessarily head to the polls.

Are millennials the first young generation have low voter turnout?

No, far from it! Younger generations have always had low voter turnout rates. When the baby boomers were in their 20s, they also didn’t vote at the rates they do today. Some headlines will suggest that low voter turnout among millennials and generation z is a new thing, but this is definitely not the case.

What keeps young people from voting?

This is a complicated question with many answers that are all related to each other (watch the video to find out!), but the simple answer is that campaigns tend not to focus on issues that affect younger people because they don’t think they will vote. This, in turn, gives younger people less incentive to actually vote. It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Where can someone register to vote?

It’s easy! You can go here: https://vote.gov/

FOR EDUCATORS

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SOURCES:

Why young people don’t vote

Voting in America: A Look at the 2016 Presidential Election

The American Freshman: National Norms 2015

Institute of Politics Spring 2018 Youth Poll

Young-Adult Voting: An Analysis of Presidential Elections, 1964–2012

The State of Civics Education

Millennials approach Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation in the electorate

The Most Powerful New Voting Bloc in America Doesn’t Vote

How Can We Get More Young People to Vote? 16 November,2018Annelise Wunderlich

Author

Annelise Wunderlich

Annelise is a documentary filmmaker, educator, and Youth Participation Manager at KQED. Her films have aired on national and regional public television outlets, and she teaches film studies at Diablo Valley College. She loves very spicy food, and traveling to places where people make it.

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