Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Why is voter turnout for young voters down?

By Jasely Molina

PLATTSBURGH -- According to the U.S. Census, the voting turnout rate among young adults ages 18-24

within the last decade has decreased to 30.8 percent. The race for presidency in 2016 has

intensified leaving presidential candidacy striving to win the votes of millennials; however, the

low turnout voting rate has left candidates and locals asking themselves: why aren’t enough

young adults voting?

“A lot of young adults just don’t care to keep up with politics. If they do, many feel that

their voices don’t matter,” Plattsburgh Resident Maribel Vitagliani said. Vitagliani is a registered

Democrat. Vitagliani accredits the low turnout rate among young adults to the voting system.

She believes that young adults are discouraged to vote because they cannot directly vote for their

preferred candidate. She also believes that many of these young adults feel that because their

vote is in the hands of a representative, their vote or opinion is not important. “Maybe if we can

electronically vote, it would make things easier for people since they don't have to go out their

way; however, people just have to keep educating and involving themselves in a friendly and

accepting environment,” Vitagliani said.

Operations and Technology Associate Michelle Quimi acknowledges her right to vote;

however, she has decided not to vote. She believes that it would not be fair to exercise her right

to vote because she is not completely informed about politics or the stances held by the

presidential candidates. “I did not want to make a decision because of what I heard other people

say. I did not want to vote because one candidate was a woman or the other was a ‘good fit,’”

Quimi said.

“People have this sense that due to their age, they believe that anything that happens in the

election will not directly affect them. Yet, in this election it’s different. You can tell that the race

is fueling up. Some people may not like the candidates, but four years now, they’ll be impacted

by the laws imposed by the president,” PSU Junior Julian Breyette said. He believes that the low

turnout rate is also a result of confusion. He explained that many young adults are exposed to

political and economic terms; however, they do not have a clear concept of what the terms mean.

According to Breyette, despite the rise of social media and political videos, the lack of education

discourages the young adults to vote. Breyette, however, intends on voting in this year’s general


“There was actually a huge increase [in voting turnout] in that age group,” Democrat

Commissioner of the Clinton County Board of Elections Mary Dyer said. “There were deadlines

and registrations imposed by the state. Although a lot of these people didn’t meet requirements,

they were registered to vote.” Dyer said that the voting booths were very busy during the NY

primaries and were as busy as a general election. Dyer accredits this voter turnout among young

adults to the presidential candidates. She believes that the presidential candidates are eclectic and

“hit all spectrums of this age group.” Dyer anticipates that the general election will have the

same turnout as it did during the NY primary.

Social media has made efforts to encourage young voters to go out and vote. Tumblr, a

free microblogging and social network website, has a spotlight page that allows users to easily

find links that relate to current events, campaign updates, statistics and political experts. This

ensures that young voters have accurate sources to rely on and the accurate information on the

presidential candidates.

Facebook has set reminders for online users. Users are giving the option of placing a

template on their status that states that they are currently watching a political debate. This can

encourage the person’s followers to be on top of trends and actually watch the debate. The

Washington Post has also collaborated with Facebook to show behind-the- scenes footage of the

March 9th Democratic presidential debate.

For the NY primary, Bernie Sanders purchased geofilters from Snapchat, which is an image

and video messaging phone application. Snapchat allows users to take photos and place filters

on them. One of the filters read “You’re Up, NY! Vote for Bernie today!”

Local campaign groups in the North Country have also created pages dedicated to gathering

residents in neighboring counties to help promote their preferred candidate.

It is still unknown whether millennials will decide to vote for the general election in

November; however, it is clear that with the millennials outnumbering the Baby Boomer

population, an increase in turnout from the millennials could potentially sway the vote for the

presidential candidates.

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