This story was written by Chris Busby, The Daily Cougar
Every election cycle younger voters are discussed as a key voting block and a vital part of the electorate. Sadly, it has been a stretch to say so. Younger voters lack the motivation the older generations have when it comes to the ballot box. Many may attribute this to laziness; it comes from a lack of understanding of what motivates younger people.
People vote for varying reasons ranging from a feeling of duty or to support a particular party or candidate for office. While older voters are often in a habit of voting in most elections, younger voters often do not have this advantage. While older voters have a lifetime of reasoning and backing as to why they vote, many younger voters simply do not. This upcoming presidential election will be the first general election that many young voters will have participated in and is vital to developing the habit of voting.
Because of their lack of participation, politicians overlook younger voters. This is a tempting thing to do for multiple reasons. The youth vote has been inconsistent. At times it is very high, for example, the elections held during the Vietnam War; other times young voters are very scarce, such as in 2000 and in 2004. On the other hand, older voters have been very reliable and turn out at a much more consistent rate. The disconnect between politics and the younger generation is obvious. This is partially due to apathy, partially due to ignorance of the issues, but largely because the establishment has forgotten what motivates them.
What brings them to the polls will be a variety of factors. Some look at the slumping economy, and college graduates especially fear going out into the job market. Many younger voters will be buying a house for the first time and are afraid that the housing market will fall through. Others are inspired by either Republican candidate Sen.John McCain or Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama. Obama in particular has made it a point to reach out to younger voters, who carried him over the finish line of the much-heated Democratic primary campaign.
This phenomenon is definitely not limited to the Democratic side; Republican candidates have been very successful in bringing younger voters to the polls. Rep. Ron Paul had a very strong younger voter backing in his unsuccessful run for the Republican nomination. Ronald Reagan also brought younger voters into the fold very successfully.
Younger voters often lack motivation, but they do not lack a stake in what happens. Their lives are often the most influenced by the trends of the day. The duty of those seeking their votes is to speak to their interests and not to forget that, if given time, effort and attention, younger voters can turn out in the same proportions as older voters.