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Youth Vote at Record Low -- Here's How to Reverse the Trend


Youth Vote at Record Low -- Here's How to Reverse the Trend

Paul Rogat Loeb

The numbers are dismaying. According to a new US Census report, only 20% of eligible 18-29-year-olds voted in 2014. It was the lowest turnout in 40 years, below even 2010's doleful 24%. Mid-term youth turnout is always low. But these numbers suggest a generation profoundly disconnected from the electoral choices that will help shape their world.


There is one critical element missing from Mr. Loeb’s prescription: Credible candidates who address the issues confronting the country with serious and innovative ideas that are focused on the future.


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It’s not a bad idea to get young people to vote, except for the myriad reasons already noted. If young people actually received a civics education in school, which includes all the duties of a citizen in a representative democracy, than they would be more engaged to begin with and more likely to perform the final duty: voting.


Here’s just one absurdly simple way to increase voter turnout for the young and not-so-young. Hold voting on Sundays - like the rest of the, more-civilized, world does it. This Tuesday voting stuff (and no laws mandating time off to vote) is just one more of those strange USAn ways that is not seen anywhere else in the world. And no, I don’t buy that “it was most convenient for farmers back in the day” explanation. Tuesday was selected, along with uniquely USAn non-automatic voter registration (nowadays tied to car ownership) as a form of suppressing voting of working class people.


“Daunting new election laws are” repeatedly referenced in this article with no explanation at all. What are these laws and how/why are they daunting?


How to reverse the trend:

Make voting a prerequisite for federal benefits like Drivers licenses, Social Security and Medicare.


This site gives examples of both efforts to expand and limit voting opportunities.


Wow! What a super idea!

The old carrot and stick approach. Should work really well with those young voters who wouldn’t otherwise get their Social Security checks and Medicare benefits. Not so sure about those drivers licenses, though. They are issued by the states, not the feds.

I’ll check it out with my 20-something and see if she thinks it’s a good incentive!


The first sentence was a conservative-leaning turn-off: The numbers are dismaying.

Why? Are the young supposed to believe in the corrupt enterprise sold to us as democracy?
Maybe they have seen through it. Or are too repulsed to get involved. Maybe they’ve noticed bullshit smells awful.


Why are you discrediting the Kennedy family when this nation has been run aground by 2 filial clans: The Bushes and the Clintons?


See Sue Sturgis’ article to understand your own question.


About increasing the youth vote by requiring proof you voted to get or renew a driver’s license:

Why is a license required to show you know how to drive a car with your hands, but not a license required to show you know how to drive the ship of state with your votes?


Boy do I agree with your comment. They don’t teach civics anymore. It is bizarre that an industrialized country doesn’t teach its young citizens how their society/government/system works.


Obviously we need better candidates - but when generally (among whites anyway), only the rich vote, and only the rich participate in the political party’s nominating and primary process (in the great percentage of the gerrymandered districts, the opposing party does not nominate anyone at all!) - then it is going to be very hard to get better candidates.

Now Black USAns still vote in large percentages and engage in political organizing - maybe whites can learn something from them.


A proper education would include some truth! The hubris of the whole situation is that no one admits to the young that the system is pretty damned awful. By the time you realise that, you are likely immersed in it too deeply to really challenge it. This is a general aspect of all nations - although it seems far worse in the so-called developed ones.


I find it tricky to respond to the sort of argument you make. Yes, if we had candidates that simply wanted to organise the world for everyone’s equal benefit and realistically addressed the challengesm things would obviously be better - provided they were voted in. But as the system ensures such people get nowhere, that whole view cannot nove beyond idealism.
Back in reality, I think we are inclined towards such idealism only because the mind struggles to embrace anything else. None of which changes the fact that the fundamental notion of anyone or group having controlling power over another person or group is very suspicious itself. In a perfect world, good ideas and projects would stand by their own merit, without any propaganda, power or coercion to enforce them. So the desire for power is itself, very arguably, corrupt from the off. If this sounds too abstract, today’s world can just be seen as one huge working (dysfunctional) example of the theory.