US Government and Politics
January 15, 2018
Why Don’t Younger Generations Vote?
Lack of political apathy in younger generations has always originated from one source: a general distaste of the American government. This lack of interest is then worsened by the lack of voter education and unnecessarily complicated voting procedures that restrict those who want to vote. Ultimately, it will take a total reformation in the voting system to significantly change the minds of voters. By establishing a system that represents each citizens proportionally along with programs that implements modern technology, a more politically involved youth will result from it.
Millennials, also known as the “narcissistic generation”, are notorious for being incredibly inactive in politics. Even a hundred years ago when the young adults of the “roaring twenties” were labeled as selfish or when the “baby boomers” were called ignorant, it is obvious that history has always called “young” generations inactive. By comparing different generations during their “younger” years elections analyst can uncover the secrets of political behaviors in younger generations. According to the World Values Survey, “Millennials are less likely to influence others to vote than the 80’s generation or the postwar baby boomers”. On the other hand, Millennials are likely to participate in protests than previous generations. Unlike the presidential race, America’s elections for senators, representatives or local offices are simply boring for young Americans. For example, the 2012 presidential election shows that only 59% of registered voters voted but the mid-term elections resulted in just 42% of all voters. Only 28% of people between 18 to 24 voted within that year. However these numbers does not illustrate the bigger picture. It is evidence in society that Millennials have decided to delay their careers, marriages and ultimately their political involvement. A similar phenomena also occurred in the 80’s generation, where eventually they have become just as politically active as the average baby boomer. This trend will mostly likely affect Millennials as well.
A solution proposed by the government that involves improving the country’s election process has created positive results. Over a decade of debates over the voting problems in the 2000 presidential election, Caltech and MIT began the Voting Technology Project. Their research claimed there is a drop in the number of votes due to the outdated voting machines. In addition, the report urges the government to engineer more accurate and efficient methods of voting. For example, 20 states had “implemented online voter registration” while 4 more states recently allowed this technology to go mainstream. Republicans have supported this technology since the 1990s, including Colorado Secretary of Staes Wayne Williams. He believes that modern technology, such as ThinkProgress, will help prospective voters register within a couple of minutes. Cities such as New York and Los Angeles has recently been using smartphone applications to educate the younger generation. Joe Kiniry, a computer scientist, said that he was developing a system where voters can use to determine the length of lines at polling places. However, privacy experts have cautioned against this notion due to “cybersecurity concerns.” While online voting is currently being applied in other countries such as Estonia, people like Kiniry are working on an a program that allows private internet voting. He says that “a system can be secure or it can be usable. We’re trying to figure out how it could be both.”
One alternative solution that can increase the number of young voter participation is the execution of a proportional representation. This system will establish a bigger and more influential voice for American voters. The amount of wasted votes under the Electoral College has somewhat demoted voter participation. Proportional representation will allow minorities to elect representative that reflect their beliefs without having to abide by what the majority decides. This method also means that each individual’s votes has a greater weight, thus giving the person a better incentive to make a change in government By providing a better purpose, paired with the likeliness that third-party candidates have a chance to be seriously considered, proportional representation will better serve the American voter.
Young Americans are constantly being told that their individual votes do matter in electing a government official, but unfortunately that notion is false. However, by applying proportional representation and modern technology America can once again make every vote count and every voice heard. These solutions will ensure a politically involved youth and more a democratic nation.