While you’re thinking about why older voters participate, I wanted to give you a quick look at the other end of the age spectrum. Some think of younger voters as having – or feeling like they have – less of an immediate stake in politics than do older Americans. For this reason, they tend to vote in smaller percentages than do those who are older. Let’s take a look at what we know from recent history.
Prior to the 2018 election, young people certainly were the least likely voters. In mid-term elections (the years when there is no presidential election), voters age 18-29 have generally shown apathy: between 1994 and 2014, at most 26 percent of these citizens turned out to vote (CIRCLE 2018). However, these same data show that in 2018, roughly 31 percent voted. So it’s possible we are seeing a trend of younger Americans increasing their awareness and feeling a stake in the election process.
Those of us interested in interpreting trends and predicting the near future might ask: If it is basically true that people vote when they feel they have a stake in the process, then how should we interpret this increase in young people’s participation? Is it logical that they would feel more of a stake in the election process? Or should we expect that the percentages of young voters will fall again in the next few years?
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. (2018, November 7). Young people dramatically increase their turnout to 31%, shape midterm elections. Retrieved from https://civicyouth.org/young-people-dramatically-increase-their-turnout-31-percent-shape-2018-midterm-elections/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
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Age and Elections
I think age is becoming of significance in politics perhaps because the majority of the U.S population is getting older. However, from the recent statistics of CIRCLE, it is clear that the number of youth voter turnout has significantly increased as compared to 2014 (“Young People Dramatically Increase their Turnout to 31%, Shape 2018 Midterm Elections”, 2018). I think this is a good sign because it means the youth are finally getting concerned with their leadership. Their mentality is slowly changing and they seem to be particularly confident about the ability that their generation has in fostering development. They believe that by electing young leaders, they will be one step closer to achieving the change they all desire. They have also become conscious of their constitution and understand the significant role that voting plays in advancing their political views. Political aspirants, especially Democratic candidates, appear to have also contributed to this massive youth voter turnout. In 2018, States like Nevada that had a higher percentage of youths in the electorate recorded wins for the Democratic candidates (“Young People Dramatically Increase their Turnout to 31%, Shape 2018 Midterm Elections”, 2018). This is because the Democrat party is encouraging youths to participate in democracy. As a matter of fact it is encouraging some of the youths to take up leadership positions and implement policies that they see fit. It is this participation in democracy that is urging even more youths to turn out and vote. From my point of view, I believe this trend is expected to continue. This is because the young voters are demonstrating increased political awareness, enthusiasm and concern to take part in national development. If anything, in the near future it is highly likely that the youth are not only going to participate in election by voting but also by taking up some of these leadership positions.
Young People Dramatically Increase their Turnout to 31%, Shape 2018 Midterm Elections. (2018). Retrieved from https://civicyouth.org/young-people-dramatically-increase-their-turnout-31-percent-shape-2018-midterm-elections/
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