Extending the right to vote in the United States required decades of dedication from individuals before us. Today, voting is a fundamental right and essential responsibility of United States citizens. Despite the importance of casting a vote in the nation’s democratic system, voting, to many, appears to be an unimportant, inconsequential task––especially among America’s eligible youth voting population (age 18 to 19).
There are a number of reasons frequently cited when attempting to understand passivity of young voters. Lack of civics information and political engagement education in classrooms is one recurring reason. Another source of reason stems from social media and the internet at-large: although today's technology has the potential to better educate a broader demographic of Americans surrounding political engagement, the biases that exist in all fields obstruct such promise. Moreover, multitudes of eligible young voters have adopted the belief that their individual vote is insignificant, and therefor, ignore the steps to casting a ballot.
Stated by the director of CIRCLE, the youth civic participation initiative at Tufts University, Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, “there is a significant lack of knowledge about how exactly the government works, and, therefore, how their vote actually matters.”
In addition to the apathy of young voters in elections, suppression efforts in affect today further challenge prospective voters, perpetrating the nation's disconnect between civic engagement and the value of a vote. It is our responsibility to know about civics and voting and pursue the 'best practices' that have already proven success across the nation.
This report, produced on behalf of the WNDC Educational Foundation, explores the statistics surrounding youth voter turnout, the variables that may perpetrate these disparities, and potential strategies to increase youth voting rates.
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