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Young People, Media Use, and Voter Turnout: An Analysis of the 2000 National Election Study
Unformatted Document Text:  Young Voters and Media Use 2 Introduction Voter turnout for the U.S. presidential elections has been in decline for the past few decades. The U.S. Census Bureau (2002) reported that 69 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots in the presidential election in 1964, compared to 54 percent in 1996 and barely 50 percent in 2000. The sharpest decline in voter turnout has been in the age cohort of 18-to-35- year-olds. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau (2002) reported that voter turnout among Americans aged 18 to 24 has consistently declined from 50 percent in 1972, when 18-20 year olds gained the right to cast their ballots for President, to 32 percent in 1996. In the 2000 presidential election, only 17 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds came to the polls and recorded the lowest turnout since 1972 (Lewis, 2001). Two journalists of the Washington Post reported that twice as many older voters as young voters (people younger than 30) plan to vote in the mid-term election in 2002, according to a study conducted by the Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University (Goldstein and Morin, 2002). Scholars and experts have expressed a number of theories and opinions as to why young voter turnout is consistently dropping. For instance, in an interview with CNN, Curtis Gans (2000), director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, said, “Young people no longer study current events or get tested on them. A majority of young people are growing up in homes both of whose parents don’t vote. A large majority don’t discuss politics and a large minority are civicly illiterate… Government plays less of a central role in the lives of Americans than it does in other countries where voter turnout is higher. So, there may be less of a sense of urgency to vote for a president among those who feel ‘distanced’ from their government.”

Authors: Kim, Eunsong.
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Young Voters and Media Use
2
Introduction
Voter turnout for the U.S. presidential elections has been in decline for the past
few decades. The U.S. Census Bureau (2002) reported that 69 percent of eligible voters
cast their ballots in the presidential election in 1964, compared to 54 percent in 1996
and barely 50 percent in 2000.
The sharpest decline in voter turnout has been in the age cohort of 18-to-35-
year-olds. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau (2002) reported that voter turnout
among Americans aged 18 to 24 has consistently declined from 50 percent in 1972,
when 18-20 year olds gained the right to cast their ballots for President, to 32 percent in
1996. In the 2000 presidential election, only 17 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds came to
the polls and recorded the lowest turnout since 1972 (Lewis, 2001).
Two journalists of the Washington Post reported that twice as many older voters
as young voters (people younger than 30) plan to vote in the mid-term election in 2002,
according to a study conducted by the Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family
Foundation, and Harvard University (Goldstein and Morin, 2002).
Scholars and experts have expressed a number of theories and opinions as to
why young voter turnout is consistently dropping. For instance, in an interview with
CNN, Curtis Gans (2000), director of the Committee for the Study of the American
Electorate, said,
“Young people no longer study current events or get tested on
them. A majority of young people are growing up in homes both of
whose parents don’t vote. A large majority don’t discuss politics
and a large minority are civicly illiterate… Government plays less
of a central role in the lives of Americans than it does in other
countries where voter turnout is higher. So, there may be less of a
sense of urgency to vote for a president among those who feel
‘distanced’ from their government.”


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