By: Tyler Hillard/Sports Editor
The following article is a group project from contributions by Giavonna Fiore, Savannah Glover and Tyler Hillard
1. a formal indication of a choice between two or more candidates or courses of action expressed typically through a ballot or a show of hands or by voice.
The definition of ‘vote’ seems pretty straight forward. You make a decision and choose between a few things. In politics, you most likely choose someone to be your leader. These leaders are expected to have the ability to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. However, this idea of going to your local township and casting your vote is not done as much as it should. Young voters don’t vote as much as their older counterparts, the statistics make this obvious. This trend is prevalent throughout America and Pennsylvania specifically. C.I.R.C.L.E research shows that out of only 42.2% of 18-24 year-olds that are registered voters, an even lower 19% turned out to actually vote in 2014 midterm elections. The numbers have consistently trended downwards, but some hope has emerged in 2018 with a predicted 31% of eligible young voters to turn up to the polls for midterms. The number of young voters who participate in presidential elections is slightly more promising, as turnout has increased from 45% in 2012 to 46.1% in 2016. Even though these numbers rank lower than previous elections, participation has been trending in a positive direction. So what do these numbers from C.I.R.C.L.E prove about America’s young electorate? There is a growing emphasis on voting, and it’s unclear yet if the 18-24-year-old population will catch on to its importance. Young voters have incredible power in their numbers, but it’s up to them to utilize this power. So why don’t they vote? How do we get these young Americans to vote? The answers to these questions are still being worked out, even in concern to Pennsylvania, but strides have been made.
Why Don’t Young Americans Vote?
There are many different reasons that factor into why young Americans don’t vote.
One of the biggest factors of why they don’t vote would be Political Efficacy. Young voters believe that their vote will not make a difference in the final result. Below are some of the explanations of why they don’t believe their vote will make a difference.
Young voters and all voters also deal with Voting Barriers. 18-24 year-olds are at a very important time in their lives. Some are in college, playing sporting activities, etc. How an election is carried out state by state is a reserved power, meaning it is run by the state government. Each election has different rules and regulations among each state. For example in Pennsylvania, a resident must be a citizen of the United States for at least one month and a resident of the district he or she is registering for at least 30 days before the election. You must register to vote 30 days before election day or you will not be able to cast your vote.
A Valuable Vote
The young voters’ electorate is expected to be the first demographic with the potential to change the current two-party system. This is mostly due to them potentially pushing for the need for an alternative political party which they feel can represent their diverse population through an inclusive agenda. Millennials and young voters are currently the most diverse group of young voters, which is shown through 35% of them identifying as independents rather than siding with Republicans or Democrats in 2016.
Young voters are a very powerful electorate group and have a very crucial vote during elections. So much so that they were credited with the decisive vote in one of the recent elections between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. In 2012 both of the candidates campaigned towards the millennials, in which Obama gained 67% of their vote which won him crucial states like Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, and Ohio. This was a large contribution to Obama’s overall win which was credited to the young people. Therefore, the power of the millennial and young vote has detrimental effects on a candidates success.
The youth vote overall is very influential in the country. As of 2016, the voting population included equal parts millennial and baby boomers, but with the boomers currently decreasing in size, experts are suggesting that it is merely a matter of time before millennials become the largest most powerful group in future elections. Their vote in these elections is also what is going to affect their futures, with decisions about things like college tuition and federal job programs. This gives them a very influential role in the voting process due to the fact that their decisions are based mainly on their future.
Solving the Issue
There is no one remedy to the lack of young voters, but there is a multitude of ways to inform and mobilize these voters, applicable to both America and Pennsylvania.
- Get the facts straight. Voters are more likely to vote when they know the ins and outs of what they’re really participating in and how to do so. Inform voters when and where to vote and how to use the method of voting (machine, ballot, etc.) they’ll be using. Furthermore, encourage and inform about registering to vote with tools such as registration drives.
- Reach out! Include younger people in phone calls, surveys, canvassing, etc. Interacting with a real person instigates a young voter to vote more than other automated methods. Expanding through social media increases interaction as well.
- Legislation. Change is often most mobilized when there is legislation to back it. In Pennsylvania specifically, legislators are on top of making voting easier and analyzing where they can improve. In December 2017, the Pennsylvania General Assembly completed a joint state government commission on the voting technology of Pennsylvania. The report included an analyzation of voting technology in the state and ways to improve voting techniques to make voting more accessible. Actions such as these from the government promote an easier way for young voters to participate in their civic duties. By promoting such legislation and change, the young can be expanded.