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Factors Which Influence Youth Voter Turnout

1319 words - 5 pages

Voting is a political liberty of many law-abiding citizens of the United States of America. In terms of voter turnout and voting behaviors, there are two rival schools of thought. This research will examine what factors cause youth voting to be lower than that of older voters. The first school of thought, which can be referred to as conventional wisdom argues that persons under the age of thirty are least likely of all age groups to vote because they feel indifferent in regards to political practices. This causes them to turn out in drastically lower numbers than any other group. The second school of thought suggests that youth voters are not necessarily uninterested with the political systems, but instead they are misrepresented. I believe that America’s youth is slightly disconnected from the political world, but not for reason they are solely responsible for. Considering that there have been elections in which young voters turnout in record numbers, the notion that suggests that youth voters’ misrepresentation in politics causes their low voter turnout appears to be more convincing.
Conventional wisdom contends that young people do not vote because they are naturally disengaged. This idea causes many to presume that political campaigns have no influence over youth voter turnout. In 2000, Robert Putnam blamed young people for the decline in voting, political interests, and campaign activities. He argued that, “youth are uninterested, irresponsible, and unwilling to fulfill their civic responsibilities (Putnam, 2000). Kevin Mattson (2003), unlike Putnam, does not place blame solely on America’s youth for the decline in political practices. However, he does criticize the level at which youth engage in civil activities. He holds that a continuance of this does supplement a decline in the political movement (Mattson, 2003). Mattson (2003) found that educational programs and political education through familial institutions and community life effectively allow young people to participate in the political system. Robert Putnam (2000) through his researched discovered that participation in democracy had declined because citizens were “bowling alone”. He suggests that the decrease in civic engagement goes well beyond political involvement. Putnam believed that technology has caused society to have a sense of individualism, causing them to not active participate in political processes. Public opinion and existing text suggest that low voter turnout amongst youth is unavoidable.
Despite scholars indicating that America’s youth do not vote, today’s youth are much different than their counterparts in pervious years. In 2008, Brian Cogan and Tony Kelso suggested that if youth’s everyday interest were incorporated in voting, they would be better represented in the political system. America’s youth tend to rely less on the government because they feel as if many political issues do not affect them directly. Cogan and Kelso (2008) found that...

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