Red, White, and Confused?

Lazy, or uninterested? More and more voters seem to be refusing or neglecting to vote in elections. This voter apathy is being caused by more than just laziness. Politicians are trying to encourage people to vote, but it seems that voters have other reasons for their lack of participation in today’s elections.

The young adult vote is one that many candidates shoot for knowing it can help make a difference. Unfortunately the percentage of young voters is on the decline. In 2012, the percentage of young adults ages 18-29 who voted was 45%, down from 51% in 2008.

As mentioned before, this decline isn’t just voter apathy. In fact, less than 13% of college students said the reason they didn’t vote was that they were not interested. If it isn’t laziness or a lack of interest, then what is it?

Young voters that have attended college makes up 71% of the young voting population so it is likely that college students are the largest representation of young adults ages 18-29. This can get a little tricky for students who opt to attend schools out-of-state. A large majority of students are still dependents of their parents and maintain residency in the state in which they are originally from. Here comes the confusion for students: Where can I vote? How can I vote?

Over 25% of college students reported that they did not register to vote because they did not know where or how to register, or they had simply missed the deadline. How do we fix this? How can we shift this trend of voter apathy?

If a quarter of students are claiming confusion and lack of information is the reason to not vote then possibly a change in distributing information could help. States that mailed out sample ballots, information about polling places, and extended polling place hours, saw youth turnout increase by about 10%. If campaigns could focus their marketing towards students who may not know how or where to vote, we might see a boost of out-of-state college students voting.


By: Kelli Hall, Stephanie Jordan, Morgan McCleaf, Shawn Rause, and Danielle Walters

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2 thoughts on “Red, White, and Confused?

  1. I can’t help but wonder if there are two main reasons for the drop in voters. One is confusion over who to vote for and the other is frustration over political advertisments. I have found myself muting these now because I’m tired of hearing negative ads. I would appreciate hearing what the candidates stand for and plan to accomplish if elected. For me, these negative ads damage the candidates brand more than the person they are trying to undermine. I also think it’s important to start teaching kids in highschool how to register to vote and why it’s important.

    • Thank you for the comment, Susan!
      We definitely agree that there are many factors to the drop in voters. One that stood out the most to us was the confusion. Like you suggested, it would be very helpful if we started teaching kids in high school how to register to vote and the importance of it! Personally, this was never brought up to me in school before I turned 18.
      You also make a great point that there is a lot of frustration with the ads. It is pretty tiring when all you hear is negativity back and forth between the candidates versus the issues at hand.
      Thank you again, Susan!
      -Danielle

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