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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Unearthing the bigger problem: The cause of low young voter turnout  

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Recent local elections saw low levels of voter turnout. The Indiana Secretary of State’s office found that only 24% of eligible voters in Indianapolis voted in the 2019 municipal election. Approximately 11% of registered voters cast a ballot in the 2023 municipal primary election.

It is not clear if these numbers will increase in the 2023 municipal general election or how many young voters will be driven to polls. However, the 2022 midterm election saw notable young voter turnout, with 23% of votes cast by voters ages 18-19: one of the largest turnouts of young voters in the past three decades, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.

The Indiana Young Democrats – a youth caucus of the Indiana Democrats – point to a lack of engagement and education as the root cause of low youth voter turnout.

“Insufficient education regarding voter ID cards has presented a significant challenge in voter registration processes,” Vice President of the organization Dyna Martinez said. “This issue mainly affects young individuals, who frequently express concerns about the limited availability of transportation options. Moreover, non-English speaking communities often find themselves at a disadvantage, as important voter registration deadlines can easily pass them by because most communication is conducted solely in English.”

Indianapolis resident Jim Harris, 30, believes that removing these barriers to voting can encourage more young people to get involved in democracy.

“I believe many young people don’t get into voting because it is intimidating,” Harris said. “There are so many loops and hurdles like finding out where to vote, which district precinct I am in, if my ID is good enough vote, so many different elements that I think turn people off of voting completely.”

Despite the various barriers young voters face, the Indiana Young Democrats believe the issue can be solved through social media.

“By utilizing social media creatively, candidates can craft authentic narratives, share personal stories, and present their policies in a visually appealing and easily digestible manner,” Martinez said. “This approach allows young voters to connect with politicians on a more personal level and fosters a sense of trust, transparency, and relatability.”

A 2023 Brookings Institute report on young voters’ impact bolsters Maritnez’s claim, finding that campaigns must engage in social media to reach young voters. The report showed that 81% of voters between the ages of 18-29 receive their news from a digital source and trust digital sources more than other forms of news.

Martinez said that engaging young voters and addressing the issues they care about is what will ultimately ensure the best future for the nation.

“Climate and sustainability, police reform, workforce development and quality of place, including economic prosperity, and housing represent some of the major concerns that will shape agendas and decisions [in the municipal and 2024 presidential elections]. These critical topics demand attention, as they have the potential to impact communities and shape the future of our nation. By acknowledging the significance of these issues and actively engaging in dialogue and action, we can work towards positive change and create a brighter future for all,” said Martinez.

The Indianapolis Recorder reached out to the Indiana GOP for comments but did not receive remarks in a timely manner.

Contact multi-media staff writer Noral Parham III at 317-762-7846. Follow him on Twitter @3Noral. For more news courtesy of the Indianapolis Recorder, click here. You can also visit the Indiana Minority Business Magazine by clicking here.

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