Concerns over Young Voter Turnout

DUBUQUE– With midterm elections just weeks away, ballots are already coming in from absentee voters and early voting locations. Though it will be awhile before the statistics are released, it’s likely that most of those votes won’t be cast by young people.

According the the US Census Bureau, only 23% of eligible Millennial voters cast ballots in the last midterm election. And in this midterm election, young voters (defined as Generation X, Millennials and Post-Millennials), are expected to be outvoted by Baby Boomers and older generations once again.

Though the numbers are concerning, this trend is not unique to this generation. Dr. Christopher Budzisz of Loras College says that historically, young people don’t vote at the same rate as older generations. Budzisz attributes this lack of participation partly to unfamiliarity with the election process and busy schedules. But he says that many young people don’t understand the impact that government has on their lives.

“I always encourage sutdents to get involved in the state and local politics as well, because on a daily basis they interact with state authorities and local authorities more than they do the national,” says Budzisz.

“They don’t see themselves as beneficiaries of the policies,” he says. “I do think they have a stake in the outcome. Not only about what the future might hold, but also the fact that they’re members of a community that are trying to make decisions about how you allocate resources.”

Though he agrees that solution to the issue is education, Loras Student Ervin Yahr III says that it can be difficult for young people to find reliable resources.

“There’s no easy way to be fully informed I would say,” says Yahr. “The biggest people that are impacted by misinformation about voting are marginalized people and young voters.”

Yahr has spent the better part of his semester helping to educate and register students to vote. So far, he’s registered more than 50 people to vote in this election. But he says that part of the problem with getting young people to vote is motivation.

“It’s a hard sell to get someone to vote when they don’t want to vote,” he says. “You can make more tangible change during a mid-term election than you can during a national election… This is everyone’s race. If you want someone to win, you need to vote.”

Loras students interested in voting in the upcoming election can click here to learn more about their voting options.

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