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HomeVideoYouth Voter Turnout: Why Is It So Low?

Youth Voter Turnout: Why Is It So Low?

Why don’t more young people vote, and what keeps them from voting?

TEACHERS: Get your students in the discussion on KQED Learn, a safe place for middle and high school students to investigate controversial topics and share their voices.

There are many reasons young people don’t vote, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t politically active in other ways. Young people are engaging with the political process by protesting, boycotting, and posting to social media. While these actions are all great, the question still stands as to why young people are willing to take certain actions but not necessarily head to the polls.

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* Are millennials the first young generation have low voter turnout?

No, far from it! Younger generations have always had low voter turnout rates. When the baby boomers were in their 20s, they also didn’t vote at the rates they do today. Some headlines will suggest that low voter turnout among millennials and generation z is a new thing, but this is definitely not the case.

* What keeps young people from voting?

This is a complicated question with many answers that are all related to each other (watch the video to find out!), but the simple answer is that campaigns tend not to focus on issues that affect younger people because they don’t think they will vote. This, in turn, gives younger people less incentive to actually vote. It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

* Where can someone register to vote?

It’s easy! You can go here:


Why young people don’t vote

Voting in America: A Look at the 2016 Presidential Election

The American Freshman: National Norms 2015

Institute of Politics Spring 2018 Youth Poll

Young-Adult Voting: An Analysis of Presidential Elections, 1964–2012
The State of Civics Education

The State of Civics Education

Millennials approach Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation in the electorate

Millennials approach Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation in the electorate

The Most Powerful New Voting Bloc in America Doesn’t Vote

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KQED, an NPR and PBS affiliate in San Francisco, CA, serves Northern California and beyond with a public-supported alternative to commercial TV, Radio, and web media. Funding for Above the Noise is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Silver Giving Foundation, Stuart Foundation, and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.