Why Are Young People Not Voting?


Graphic Courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau

Americans between ages 18 and 29 have consistently had the lowest voting turnout rates.

Jenny Won, Business Team Member

Voters crowded the poll booths yesterday morning to cast votes for their favorite candidates in the U.S. midterm elections. Yet, there seems to be an alarming trend: the vast majority of voters are over the age of 30. Considering that U.S. citizens are eligible to vote from age 18, young adults between 18 and 29 should logically comprise a good fraction of the voters; however, they have historically always had a turnout rate of about 50 percent or less. In comparison, older adults between ages 45 to 64 typically have about 70 percent.

According to the Center for American Progress, the 2012 presidential election saw only 26 percent of 64 million eligible voters in Generation Y (born 1980-1994). Midterm elections have even lower turnout rates, with 21.3 percent in 2014. In contrast, around 55 percent of Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers showed up.

A common excuse for not voting is that one person’s vote will not make a difference. 70 percent of an entire generation’s votes, however, will definitely make a difference.

According to the Huffington Post, the political apathy that many millennials demonstrate may actually have a deeper root than mere laziness. Many millennials are dissatisfied with the corporate-like nature of the U.S. government as a whole and unwilling to feed into its bipartisan conflicts.

In 2014, 22 percent of citizens aged 15-24 said that society’s issues could not be solved by any government candidate, according to The Economist.

Younger generations often tend to vote for Democrats, while the older demographic leans Republican, according to Washington Post. Logically, this means that when the older voters outnumber younger ones, the Republican candidates are more likely to triumph in the elections.

If as many young adults voted as their older counterparts, Democrats would have the majority in almost every election, according to the New York Times. Yet, the opposite holds true in Congress. A democracy relies on the votes of its citizens. Without enough voters, a government cannot accurately represent its people.