1. Voters’ Apathy Among the Young

525 Words3 Pages
UNLIKE presidential contests, America’s mid-term elections do not seem to inspire many people. In 2012 fully 59% of registered voters turned up at the polls for the presidential election. But two years earlier just 42% bothered to cast their votes in the 2010 mid-term elections, and this year’s turnout may be even lower. Few are as uninterested as the young. In 2010 the turnout of people aged 18 to 24 was just 21%. Such low turnout means that in mid-term years, Republicans (whose voters tend to be older) dominate the ballot, even though they cannot win so easily in presidential years. In plenty of Senate races, Democrats are banking, perhaps too hopefully, on an unusually high youth turnout to win. Why is it so difficult to get young people to vote? It is not only in America that the young do not exercise their democratic rights. In 2010 just 44% of people aged 18 to 24 voted in Britain’s general election, compared with 65% of people of all ages. In not a single European country do the young turn out more than older people. Historically, youth turnout has never been particularly high anywhere, but over the past few decades things have got worse. One explanation favoured by older people is that the young are simply lazy. But this does not make much sense. Today’s young people volunteer more than old people; they are much better educated; and they are less likely to drink excessively or use drugs than previous generations of youth. That does not seem like a recipe for political apathy. A better explanation may be that young people today do not feel they have much of a stake in society. Having children and owning property gives you a direct interest in how schools and hospitals are run, and whether parks and libraries are maintained. But if they settle down at all, young people are waiting ever longer to do it. In 1970 the average American woman was not yet 21 years
Open Document