Politicians overlook young voters

by Staff Writer Matt Wilson

According to a recent Gallup poll, only 56 percent of voters between the ages 18 and 29 said they definitely will vote in the upcoming national elections.

The poll also shows that only 60 percent of this voting group is registered to vote.  Older age groups have higher percentages of registered voters and those that said they will definitely vote in the upcoming elections.

Christopher Maynard, professor of political science at UNA, said that, historically, the younger voters do not actually vote and are often overlooked by major political parties.

“Because they don’t vote in large numbers, neither major political party really reaches out to the young voters,” Maynard said. “They focus on the issues and the voting groups that will get them re-elected.”

In the 2008 election, the 18- to 29-year-old voting bloc supported Barack Obama 2-1 over John McCain, but those voters might not show up to the polls this time, according to the Gallup poll.

“In the 2008 election things were different,” Maynard said. “At the time candidate Obama was younger than recent candidates.  He also popularized himself by talking about sports and pop culture. These things made him more attractive to young voters.”

Maynard said the spike in voting among younger voters in the 2008 election is not being seen this time, based on the Gallup polls.

“If younger voters showed up consistently to the polls and made themselves a known voting bloc that politicians could count on, then politicians would start addressing more of the issues that they are concerned about,” Maynard said.

UNA freshman Paige Drouillard said she does not plan on voting because she does not follow many of the issues or the candidates.

“I don’t think I’ll vote because I don’t really know much about the candidates or the issues,” said Drouillard. “I think if I did know more about the issues, that would make me more likely to vote.”

UNA senior Matt Bruce said it is a little bit different for him.

“I keep up with most of the major issues and where the candidates stand, but I feel a real disconnect with Washington (D.C.) and most of the politicians,” Bruce said. “I have no idea what it’s like to be them, and they have no idea what my life is like either.”

Maynard said getting younger candidates elected would help with younger voters being more engaged and their issues being addressed.

“If you keep electing people that don’t share your own values, then you can’t expect them to make decisions that you always agree with,” Maynard said.