CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

Why Young People Don’t Vote

May 13th, 2011
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This graph (using Census survey data from 2010) presents an interesting contrast:

Reasons Given for Not Voting, 2010
College students are much more likely to cite being out of town or away from home as the reason they didn’t vote. That make sense: they tend to live away. Their peers who are not in college are somewhat more likely to cite a lack of interest or faith in the impact of their vote. They are also more likely to give miscellaneous “other” reasons.

We are aware of the limitations of survey data about reasons for non-voting. Individuals may not know or disclose their own true reasons. And some of the answers are ambiguous. For example, if you say that you were “too busy,” does that mean that you absolutely could not get to the polls or that voting was a relatively low priority for you? (Would motivating you make any difference, or not?)

Still, this graph suggests that the obstacles to voting are quite different for current college students and for their more numerous contemporaries who are not in college.

11 Responses to “Why Young People Don’t Vote”

  1. The Youth Non-Vote « Politics of the Common Good Says:

    […] has a post today exploring the difference in reasons college youth and non-college youth give for not […]

  2. Brindes Says:

    I think the reason not to vonting is the lack of confidence people (mostly the young ones) tend to have in the Political System. Baserd on that, the reasons to not voting is just some excuse to justify that.

    People find one that suits em better and voila, they feel better. I find that kinda bad, the less people care for their Political scene the worst it tend to get.

  3. Dave Says:

    There has always been a big push specifically by MTV to “rock the vote” but I’m not sure that has really worked. Maybe we do need a easier system for our country’s college kids to vote. College students would tend to be more liberal so maybe the republicans don’t mind too much.

  4. Blair Says:

    I don’t think young people realize the value of voting and what is at stake. They just have not had enough life experience yet.

  5. Brian Says:

    Like Dave said, more and more youth centered media outlets like MTV, VH1 and a few select others have made a push to encourage the young voters to get out and vote. There has been a slight increase in numbers but the turn outs for the polls are still a disapointing low. Maybe one day these youngsters will catch on.

  6. Why Young People Don’t Vote Says:

    […] at 1:03 pm and is filed under CIRCLE Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own […]

  7. North Carolina’s Civic Health | thinking about politics Says:

    […] National data show several reasons why young people don’t vote. Interestingly, about 30 percent of young people nationally said they didn’t vote in 2010 because they were “too busy” — roughly the same percentage of North Carolinians of all ages who said the same. Other reasons also stand out. For those in college, almost one-fourth said they were out of town or away from home — a significant hurdle for young people who have to figure out how to vote long distance when they don’t attend college in their hometowns or states. For those not attending college, the second-most frequently stated reason for not voting was that they “weren’t interested” or that they felt their vote “wouldn’t matter.” […]

  8. Have the Youth of America Become So Apathetic Toward Politics that it’s Little More than High School to Them Now? | The Zephyr Lounge Says:

    […] out assume younger people don’t care about voting. Don’t believe me? Read here, here, here, and here. (FYI: the last link has some really entertaining answers as to why “young people […]

  9. Chelsea Says:

    Hi. My name is Chelsea Robinson and I currently attend Hawaii Pacific University. I’m doing a research project on youth in politics (specifically “why young people don’t vote,” and I just want to say thank you for this information! Would you mind if I use some of this information for my paper, and also have you done anymore research on this topic recently? I’d love to compare the information with what I’ve collected so far!

  10. CIRCLE Says:

    Hi Chelsea,

    Please feel free to use the information for your research and we ask that you appropriately cite us. If there is specific updated information you’re interested in please feel free to contact us directly. You can contact me at Thanks!

  11. Alex Says:

    I think part of it is that the government does not represent its people anymore, we don’t have a moderate party, My friends for example cannot find a party that balances beliefs, because my friends and I lean right and left on many different issues, no one is just right or just left, save for a few, but the majority is a mix, I have some friends who say there should be no abortions, but want equal rights for gays as well as normal folks, so how are you supposed to choose when there is no party that represents the normal person.