Photo Credit: Colin McPherson, from the Independent article “Election 2015: How to encourage young people to vote”
We are now wrapping up our series on political participation by youth. With each post, we’ve revealed 2 of our contest winners’ thoughts on this very important topic (to see the full series and all our winners, click here).
Let’s end the series where we began: highlighting the decisive power young people can have in an election. The Millenials now outnumber the Baby Boomers, which makes them the largest living generation. If they show up at the polls in 2016 as often as Baby Boomers do, they will have an enormous impact on the election.
Where will they have the most impact? The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) has some insight, with their recently released data-based ranking system. According to CIRCLE, young voters have the most potential for impact in Iowa and New Hampshire. At the Iowa caucuses, this proved to be true. As noted by NPR, youth turnout was strong, and young Republicans showed up in record numbers. Young Democrats also had a strong showing, and 84% indicated they supported Bernie Sanders. This may have been, in large part, why his showing at the caucus was stronger than anticipated.
What will happen in New Hampshire tomorrow night? Only time will tell. But LegiSchool hopes to see young people out in full force.
Want to view the New Hampshire primary the way a Millenial might? Try watching it on Snapchat. According to Politico, “About twice as many 18-24 year olds watched the [first GOP] debate on Snapchat [via the Live Story] as on TV.” Snapchat also featured the Iowa caucuses on Live Story and hopefully, will do the same for the first primary of the election year.
So, let’s officially wrap things up with our last essay winners:
Trevor Swafford, Bonita Vista High School
Trevor believes it is not just important that young people turn out to vote. He wants to see young people educated on the political process and the issues, so their vote is informed. He proposes a two-part plan to help us achieve these goals: 1) implement a new class in high school that teaches about politics and 2) impose limitations on the timing in which political ads are run. To his first point, even though government is a required course in high school, Trevor does not believe the standards for the class are enough. He thinks that if you have a class dedicated to learning about politics, not just the nuts and bolts of government, then students would be better equipped to learn for themselves about candidates, campaigns, and how the political system works. As for his second point, Trevor notes that “political TV ads are normally just slander against the opponent, and do not provide any information about what their candidate’s policies really are.” He wants to see limitations on when ads can run, as a means of limiting the influence these ads have on individuals. In Trevor’s ideal situation, teaching our students and limiting negative campaigning will help us create a more informed populace.
Tania Marmolejo, Bonita Vista High School
Tania believes part of the reason young voter turnout has been low in elections, is because this generation faces more distractions than previous generations. She supports this idea by showing that, since the 1970’s the number of television channels has increased and the amount of time dedicated to covering political news has decreased. In addition, this generation consumes their news in a different way – turning to apps like Snapchat over TV shows or newspaper articles. As Tania puts it, “the newspaper is dead to young people and smart phones grasp the youth attention on social media more than TV. The internet is a vital source of information for young people but is not a hotspot to stream politics.” How do you fix it? She suggests giving young people their own voting week, and making it more interactive than traditional elections. She wants to see voting days broadcast on social media more, to create an environment that speaks to the younger generation.