Young adults have a voice, but their voices have not been heard in elections due to their low voting rates compared to older adults.
The topic of younger voter turnout has come back into light following the midterm elections and State of the Union address. Young voters had an increased turnout rate in the 2022 midterm elections, but this percentage is still less than the older population.
Professor Nicholas Dietrich, data analytics professor at OWU, believes politicians are incentivized to focus on the older population.
“In recent elections, older voters have voted at a higher rate. It's the job of a politician to win elections, so they have incentives to concentrate their efforts among voters who are most likely to cast a ballot,” said Dietrich.
Dietrich pointed out how a lot of this depends on the platform politicians use to reach out to voters. Dietrich thinks platforms such as TikTok might allow politicians to grab the attention of younger voters.
Chloe Sullivan, OWU freshman, believes younger voters are more motivated to go out and vote in recent elections.
“In more recent years politicians have noticed how much power and how motivated young voters are to go to the polls,” said Sullivan.
Sam Lawrence, a 19-year-old student at Miami University, ran for a spot in the Ohio House of Representatives.
“At age 19, I truly believe I have experience that’s not fully understood by our government,” said Lawrence in the days leading up to the midterm elections.
Lawrence would lose the election, but made an impact through his usage of social media platforms such as TikTok and Twitter to spread his message. His campaign style allowed him to reach out to the younger population of Miami County.
Sullivan pointed out the convenience of reaching out to the older generation.
“I believe younger voters are starting to care more about voting earlier in comparison to older generations, however, because the most convenient voting base with the largest turnout is older generations, the focus is on that group,” Sullivan said.
Dietrich believes the reason for the lower voter turnouts by younger voters is due to opportunity cost. Dietrich thinks when it comes to voting, the cost is time. The time young adults take to vote could have been spent doing other activities such as working or studying.
Recent changes in young voter turnout rates are promising, but there are numerous ways for this number to continue the rise. Sullivan believes if the younger population’s voice is heard more, then young adults will be given a greater chance to stay involved in the political decision.
Dietrich thinks the issue is not with listening to the younger population but making it easier for the younger population to vote.
“I think that the best way to increase voting rates among young people is to reduce barriers to voting. Young people are less likely to have certain forms of ID, they are more likely to travel frequently or live away from their home address, and they are more likely to face consequences for taking time away from work or school,” said Dietrich.
The topic of low young adult voting rates has been discussed for years. Only time will tell how influential the evolution of technology is towards the increased voting rates by the younger generation.