Election 2020: Turn Your Teens into Smart Voters

Are you home with kids and running out of things to do? Here’s a challenge – turn your stay-at-home doldrums into an interactive civics lesson and lively debates that will inspire your children – and you – to become active, engaged citizens.

Why is this important? According to a recent study by the Knight Foundation, more than 100 million Americans did not vote in the 2016 election, representing 43% of the eligible voting-age population.

Those who are less inclined to vote include people of color, people who are poor, especially women, and – young people.

Why don’t they vote? Non-voters are more likely to lack faith in the election system and feel their vote doesn’t matter. They are less engaged with news and feel uninformed. They are busy, they may think voting is a hassle, and they have other priorities.

Those who are most likely to vote tend to be older, white and educated. Consequently, candidates that win are more likely to represent the interests of this voting contingent, at the expense of other segments of society.

As for young people, they tend to find politics boring and complicated. They are also likely to fall into the “underemployed” segment, as they are just starting their careers and working life; this group is also less likely to vote. Young people in the study:

  • Consume significant media, but news is not a primary category in that consumption
  • Are less likely to believe that democracy influences their lives or to be interested in shaping that democracy
  • They are less likely to trust the validity of the election system or to believe it represents the will of the people

Tellingly, young voters are more likely to vote if their parents and family does so, and discusses current affairs and issues at home.

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