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manoman81 04-26-2004 05:25 PM

Is voter turn-out dropping? If so, why?
I hope this is a good place to ask this. This is the only place where I have seen honest and straight answers about politics.

I need your thoughts and opinions. My sister is working on a research paper for her Political Methods class. Her topic is about voter turn-out. She would like to find out if there is an age group that votes less and what that age range is. She would also like opinions on why or why don't vote. This is intended for U.S. citizens, but any comments from anyone outside of the U.S. is surely welcome.

Please, only serious replies. Also, if it is possible, my sister may need your permission to use you quotes in her paper. Thank you.

--ZeeMan-- 04-26-2004 07:57 PM

Well I suppose that in the honesty of politics nowadays...there is none. People look at the headlines and see scandal this and scandal that, and basically lose interest in the whole political system. It's all a bunch of mudslinging. Sure you still have the older people that still vote, but I feel that it is the younger generations (18-25) that just chooses not to get caught up in the mess.

ET Warrior 04-26-2004 09:38 PM

Well voter turnout has always been and still is worst among the young voters, I think it's between 18 and 25 is the lowest percentile for voting.........but I don't have any actual numbers for ya.

The_One 04-27-2004 04:48 PM

I don't have any figures to hand, but as ET says, it is the younger sections of the electorate that are least inclined to vote.

In most Western liberal democracies turnout has been dropping since the end of the second world war. Turnout for Presidential elections is around 50% in the USA, and in the UK for general elections it is 59%. After the war, turnout was about 80% in the UK.

I live in the UK, and there is a real concern here that young people aren't interested in politics - they don't trust politicians, and many believe their vote can't change anything. Of course, votes do change things, but equally there are millions of "wasted" votes each election.

It will probably come full circle one day, and turnout will rise, but for now it is falling.

MennoniteHobbit 04-27-2004 05:06 PM

I believe that "knowledgeable voter turn-out" is decreasing. This means that young voters are voting for candidates whom they do not know anything about, such as their issues, plans, etc. Voter turn out is probably decreasing because each candidate spends one too much time making smear commercials, and the young voters do not care at all about the elections, as they believe "ooh hey, I'm not an adult yet, this won't affect me... I shouldn't vote at all!"

A lot of my friends say they hate President Bush. Because of this, I ask them exactly why. They answer "just because he's Bush." I am just using them as an example.

manoman81 04-27-2004 08:00 PM

I have to agree with you all about the age of voters. If I remember correctly, only 1/3 of the population that can vote actually do, at least in the U.S. Is there any real reason why the "college age" voters have the lowest turn-out? (i.e. smear campaigns as Zeeman said) Is there any reason as to why younger voters distrust governments so much? (I know there are plenty of reasons, but I'm trying to get other opinions to pass along) Thanks, everyone. You've all been a great help.

MennoniteHobbit 04-27-2004 08:28 PM


Originally posted by manoman81
Is there any reason as to why younger voters distrust governments so much?
Well, the people who just turned the age to vote probably want to be "rebels" to society. I doubt most know the true facts, issues, stats, etc. like I said before. I think that they don't like the government simply because there may be laws they dislike. I wouldn't really know, as I don't distrust the gov't and it is a little hard to tell.

ET Warrior 04-27-2004 09:34 PM

Of course, the fact that the government routinely lies, steals, and engages in other less than reputable activities can also lend to distrust by the masses.

MennoniteHobbit 04-27-2004 10:13 PM


Originally posted by ET Warrior
Of course, the fact that the government routinely lies, steals, and engages in other less than reputable activities can also lend to distrust by the masses.
This applies to all governments in the past, to most. Of course... but normal people do that too, and governments consist of normal people with power. Of course, it's all perspective. And opinion of each matter.

ET Warrior 04-28-2004 12:20 AM

I never said that governments in the past never did it. In fact, I'm certain ALL governments do it. But it still makes it hard to trust them. Would you trust someone who never told you the truth?

manoman81 04-28-2004 12:49 AM

Yes, I do beleive that all governments at one point or another have lied to their public. The question is why. Granted, Johnson using the "attack" in the Gulf of Tonkin to start the Vietnam War was pretty much lieing. But if a government lied to the public in order to keep it (the public) safe, is that any more right? Again just some thoughts to generate info and perspectives. Back to voting...
Are there any incentives that would get younger voters out? I live in Ohio and I know I am tired of rising tuition. Yet, the governor has done nothing to help college students out. Why wouldn't this get college voters out to change things? Is this a possible issue elsewhere in the country or the world?

SkinWalker 04-28-2004 01:46 AM

According to the U.S. Census in 2002 (where n=26,712) 45% of 18 to 24 year olds were registered voters and 32% actually voted.

This and other statistics of voting and registration can be found at

The data above came from this table, which offers several breakdowns of the data.

I was never good with stats (been putting that crap off too long now ;) ) so I'll leave it to your sister to glean the data she needs... it appears that everything she'll need is there though.

Good luck!

--ZeeMan-- 04-28-2004 09:03 AM

*sigh* go skinwalker! :p

but something i need to clarify (or point out for you stats challenged people) is that 45% of college age kids are registered...and the that number turns to 100% of a test group and then only 32% of THAT group basically only about 15% of ALL college age kids vote

pretty bad IMHO

i vote though btw

manoman81 04-28-2004 11:54 AM

Yeah, Zee that is pretty bad. I vote too. It makes me laugh that when college students are complaining about how things are hard for them and that they are "being screwed" by the government, you ask them if they voted and they say no. Just makes me shake my head and say "you have no right to b**** then". Thanks for everyones help again. My sister is forever in your debts.

jon_hill987 04-28-2004 12:19 PM

Well I live in the UK, and I know the turnout is dropping here, I can't say why because I'm sure everyone has there reasons but I can say why I for one don't use my vote. Polititions can not be trusted, As i see it it dosn't mater who wins the general/local election or whatever because the winner just does what they want to do anyway. take Tony Blair for example since he got into power he has made more U-turns than a dodgy plumber (I think thats a quote from somewhere, not sure where), I dont see any other politition being eny different, lets face it if you want to run a country you are probably power crazy and corupt anyway. I feel that if enough people don't vote they may have to start listening to what people realy want and then doing it, not just changing their minds affter they get the votes. Oh and tuition fees were one of the u-turns the blair govenment has made (origonaly saying they would not be inceased).

toms 04-29-2004 01:25 PM

Personally I think a lot of the blame for voter apathy is down to the media.

I think an independent media scrutiny of our government's actions is essential, however we no longer get this.

The media in both the UK and the US has become so centralised that it is nowowned by a very small number of corporations/individuals who now fail to provide unbiased reporting of facts, but instead provide headline grabbing gossip or biased editorials with the interests of their owners at heart.

All we hear about politicians is personal scadal, and when we do hear something more serious it is imposible to believe as you don't know what interests the reporting organisation has.

This means that politicians are unwilling to commit to anything, as they don't want to annoy the media and become a target.

A second factor for the disrepute that politics is held in would be the murky world of campaign funding, hugely powerful interest groups, massive corporate donations to both sides and the obvious complete dislocation of the elite political classes from "real life".
[side note:]I don't want to make this political, one way or the other, but i think one of the reasons so many of us despise George bush is that he seems to be the pinacle of this.[end note]

So maybe we now know TOO MUCH about what goes on to trust anyone, but not enough about the actual important things we need to know.

I know that I can't see much difference between the parties in the UK, as neither is willing to stick it's neck out and go against the press (mainly newscorp), so frankly i don't see a point in voting as I would just be pickig the lesser of two evils. I think if i was in the US i would feel the same.
As for what they can do to fix it, I'm not sure. Preventing media monopolies and limiting campaign contributions would be a good start, but i'm not sure it isn't too late for that.

Some sort of mechanism to ensure that the political makeup matches that of the country would be a good step too... maybe a percentage of cross party ordinary citizens who are selected at random (jury duty style) to balance out the inconsistencies in the directly elected officials (IE, some people under 50 and some non-white males). Or a second chamber along those lines to keep track of the elected first chamber.

lukeiamyourdad 04-29-2004 10:52 PM

I think it's mainly because of the politicians themselves. Not for corruption.

They just don't go to colleges to tell kids to vote. They go to old people'S homes but rarely do they actually go to colleges and other places where young adults are present.

Their program is also pointing toward healthcare for the old people(at least here) because they compose the main voters. People just don't understand that by not voting, they let this continue.

I say one thing. Vote THEN complain! If you don't, then you just shut up.

toms 04-30-2004 09:59 AM

Votes are precious, i'm not going to waste mine voting for the party i dislike the least. By not voting I can make more of a statement than by carrying on voting while not really caring.

I DO think there should be a "none of the above" option when voting to allow you to use your vote constructively.

The thing about old people is (a) most of the politicains are old, so they are a bit more in touch with them (b) old people have more money to donate (c) old people have houses, cars, pensions etc.. which is what a lot of politicans are used to campaigning on.

Unfortunately, i can't think of any sensible options for involving more young people in politics. I don't see lowering the voting age helping. Lowering the age you can stand for election is good in theory, but i can't see anyone putting up any 18 year old candidates. In the back of my head the idea for some form of youth parliament keeps popping up, but i can't figure out how it would work.

I think that MOST issues that concern young people are more local issues than national ones, so maybe that is the way to start. I know that locally a lot of kids have been surprisingly active and organised in campaigning for a skate park, but the council just ignores them and the whole system is set up to prevent them getting anywhere.

Maybe some form of local youth panels on local councils would be a way to go.
Introduce some technology to the proceedings (submissions and discussions by web and mobile) and then have the youth panel get (say) 1 vote on the full council. Something like that.
If that got young people involved at that age then they might well stay involved later. maybe.

lukeiamyourdad 04-30-2004 06:42 PM

The thing is any form of youth panel will have their hands tied by the "bigger" panel. They won't be taken very seriously so they'll be stuck with a crappy budget and very little freedom of decision.

It would be like being the Student Council's president. You are not capable of really changing the school's way of life. If I was president and I wanted the school to invest more into say the sports programs instead of the music one, my superiors will just tell me to shut up or I'll be kicked out. If I want things to change in the cafeteria then they'll just turn me down again and tell me to shut up.

It's the same thing. It won't have any form of power.

toms 05-01-2004 11:42 AM

probably. :(
I'm just trying to think of stuff though....
If it was easy then the politicians would have figured it out...

El Sitherino 05-01-2004 12:01 PM

I feel it could be due to a lack of most teenagers being able to identify with the problems, and exactly which ones face them. And lack of being able to identify with a particular candidate.

ET Warrior 05-01-2004 12:45 PM


Originally posted by InsaneSith
And lack of being able to identify with a particular candidate.
that's a BIG issue. I mean, we're voting for men who are as old as our fathers, and while I have immense respect for my father, I dont exactly hang out with him and his friends on a daily basis. There's a huge difference in mentality, personality, likes, dislikes, and everything else between a 20 and a 50 year old.

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