As candidates gear up for the 2008 elections, college students may be one demographic neglected in the campaign tours and promises. Why? Historically, 18 to 25 year-olds do not turn out at the polls.
In 2006, 64 percent of 18 to 25-year olds registered to vote. Of those 64 percent, only 42 percent actually voted, meaning only 30.2 percent of all 18 to 25-year olds voted in the 2006 elections.
When asked if he voted during local, state or nationwide elections, Yuba College student Jose Soltero, age 19, responded, “No, I don’t have time.”
Other young voters feel that their one vote will not make a difference. Yuba College student Becca Foster, commenting on voters her age, said, “They think it’s a waste of time.”
Today, the 18 to 25-year old age bracket makes up 24 percent of all eligible voters in America.
In 1971 America’s eighteen-year olds gained the right to vote. The 26th amendment was the fastest ratified in history. The 1972 presidential election was the first to allow 18 to 20-year olds to vote. However, only 49.6 percent actually did.
Since 1972, the percentage of young adults turning out at the polls has declined.
At the next presidential election, in 1976, only 48.9 percent of young voters cast a ballot. In 1980 the numbers declined even more with only 47.6 percent. In 1984 there were 47.8 percent; in 1988 44.9 percent; in 1992; in 1996 about 50.8 percent; in 2000 46.3 percent; and in 2004 51.4 percent of young voters participated in the presidential elections.
Why don’t more young adults turn out at the polls? According to the Youth Vote Coalition, most of today’s young adults feel that the issues, especially nation-wide politics, have nothing to do with their daily lives. Most of them do not have families of their own and do not worry too much about the future of America.
Many of these young people still attend school, keeping them on their parent’s health and dental insurance, leaving health care costs off their worry list. Also, very few of these young voters follow the news, so they don’t have the information needed to form strong opinions about the issues at hand.
Leanne Friddle, a Yuba College student, explained why she thought today’s young voters do not turn out at the polls. “They don’t take the time,” she said. “Even though all they have to do is fill out an absentee ballot.”
According to civicyouth.org, 45 percent of 18 to 25-year old registered voters in 2006 said that hearing from other young voters would likely give them the push they needed to vote. Twenty-five percent said that hearing from young politicians might convince them.
Sometimes actions have a greater effect than individual people. In 2006, 51 percent of young people responded strongly when they felt their lives were directly impacted by the issues of political campaigns, including terrorism, the job market and crime rates.
In a national survey by civicyouth.org, 45 percent responded to receiving more quality information about each individual candidate.
Thirty-seven percent responded when more focus was put on the issues, rather than personal attacks, during campaigns.