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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Youth Vote: The Next Generation Is Yawning At Elections

The following editorial appeared in the Dallas Morning News on Thursday, June 27:

For all the contributions that young people make to our society, and there are plenty – from fighting our wars to teaching our children to caring for our needy as volunteers at hospitals – there is one important arena of civic participation in which they do not pull their load. People between the ages of 18 and 24 are not voting in the percentage they should be.

Forget the fact that young people don’t vote in percentages that are anywhere near those of older voters. Perhaps that is to be expected. There may be something about the process of maturing, owning a home, raising children and approaching retirement that encourages a more conscientious approach to voting.

But the young people of today are not voting as often as did young people 30 years ago. So says new research by the Center for Information and Research on Civil Learning and Engagement, which is affiliated with the University of Maryland.

According to the study, 42 percent of those young people who were eligible voted in the excruciatingly close 2000 election. That is a 13-point drop from the 1972 presidential election. It’s also 24 points lower than the rate of participation among all eligible voters. Among the least likely to vote were Hispanics, the ethnic group now poised to become the nation’s largest minority. Voter participation among young eligible Hispanics lagged 12 points behind blacks and whites in the same age group.

Young people have done a lot for our society, but they have a lot more to do and it all starts with the simple act of voting.


(c) 2002, The Dallas Morning News

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