Young voters are historically a group with low election turnout numbers, the general election of 2012 offering one recent example: In California, about two-thirds of all eligible young adults, aged 18-24, didn’t vote — that adds up to nearly 2 million votes not cast.
The potential voting power of young adults has community organizations and advocates feeling hopeful as they gear up for a new round of voter registration drives, in the weeks leading up to the November 2 general election. National Voter Registration Day on September 23 inaugurates the registration drive season for many groups and volunteer networks across the country.
To commemorate the holiday, the Cal State Long Beach student association (ASI) will be hosting a voter registration drive on campus to get Long Beach residents, especially young residents, registered in time for the November election.
The student volunteers will have a lot of ground to cover. Only 53,336 of the 256,735 registered voters (20.77 percent) in Long Beach made it to the polls for the 2014 general municipal election.
What are organizers up against? To find out, VoiceWaves surveyed nine young people from Long Beach on Instagram and asked why they think young people aren’t voting.
Most respondents communicated two things: that they felt they weren’t adequately informed about the issues, and that they’ve lost faith in government institutions. See their full responses in the photos below:
Assistant Director of Student Involvement at CSULB Dr. Kim M. Tabari agreed: youth simply lack proper voter information.
“It is our responsibility to educate students whether it is inside of the classroom or outside of the classroom when they are involved in student clubs and organizations,” said Tabari.
According to Tabari, ASI plans on creating classroom presentations to “educate our campus on registering to vote, voting in general, and about the ballot initiatives.”
Only time will tell if there will be any significant change in voter trends for young people, but one thing is for sure—young people want to have more information before they feel ready to vote.
“The big thing is finding out what matters to young people,” said Tusanee Reedboon, former government teacher at W.I.N.T.E.R. YouthBuild Charter School, for students age 16 to 24 in Long Beach. “It’s all about narrowing it down to what problems the youth are having and what policies affect them directly.”