What's Your Take? Obstacles to Voting

I believe the main thing that keeps most young voters from participating in the election process is the fact that very few politicians take the time to speak with us, address our issues or care about what we have to say. It is as if we are brushed off as "uninformed," when in reality there are a lot of young people who are very aware of just exactly what is going on. Perhaps they are trying to keep us out of politics for a reason.
Geof Wollerman, age 26 Denver, CO

Young people are kept from voting because politicians have ignored us. There is no effort by politicians to help young people understand the issues, and they have not attempted to get out the youth vote. The reason for this is that young people don't vote. Politicians don't try to get the youth vote because young people vote in smaller numbers than other age groups. Politicians need to realize that if they tried to get out the youth vote, they would be mobilizing the largest group that doesn't vote, which would benefit their campaign. If politicians try to reach young people by catering speeches towards us, young people would vote, and they vote for the candidate that listens to them.
Kevin McKenna, age 16, Lake Forest, CA

I think people don't vote for a couple of reasons. First, the consequences of not voting are not readily apparent. To most young people, including myself, or even Americans in general, it seems that the election will take place and conclude with or without our participation so why invest myself emotionally, politically, socially, toward something I have so little control over? Secondly, the efficacy of our vote, or at least our perception of its efficacy, has steadily declined, most notably in the failure to even have a decisive accounting of the votes in 2000, topped off by Supreme Court interference. Third, most people don’t understand the Electoral College, and are discouraged once they begin to.

Other reasons are best explained by example; one young lady told me recently that she didn’t like either candidate enough, and didn’t want to support Nader, so she was just going to not vote, despite the fact that she had a clear preference between the two major candidates. Another young lady told me that she didn’t know anything about politics or current affairs, and quite frankly didn’t want to know either, so she wouldn’t vote. Last but not least, my roommate told me that she wanted to vote for Bush because he resembled her grandfather, but knew very little about the election except that the "Iraqi people were trying to kill Americans." I guess what it boils down to is ignorance and disillusionment. One more point that I borrow from the book "Bowling Alone" by Robert Putnam is the idea that as we move away from what it means to be a member of a community, we have less concern for and fewer ties to our relationships with others and focus more on how things affect us as individuals rather than as a society, which may translate politically as well.
Sarah Vaz, age 19, Dartmouth, MA

Well first of all, I think young people could care less about politics. Second of all, keeping up with the political parties is endless and usually they give up and think the people who are up to date with everything knows who to vote for and what happens, happens.
Chris Johnson, age 25, Gardnerville, NV

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