The Huffington Post just recently published an article on the shocking contrast between 2008 and 2012’s young vote. According to their article, only 50 percent of voters ages 18-29 are registered to vote. This is a full 11 percent lower than the 2008 elections. My question: Why?

I tried asking this question via Facebook status in hopes of getting some varied responses. My status read:

Question: Are you voting? If not, why not?
Also, please don’t mention who you prefer. I don’t care.

Needless to say, I received several ‘like’-button clicks and few decent answers. One responded with a reasonable, “I’m not voting because if you register to vote, you automatically have been signed up for jury duty for the rest of time.” Fair enough, but that still doesn’t explain why eleven percent of us youngsters aren’t registered. But I know why I’m not and my close friends tend to have the same reasoning.

Here are a few reasons why:

1) The Absentee Ballot

Because I am living out of my state (country), I’d have to register for an absentee ballot. This honestly isn’t too much of an inconvenience, but I’m not as willing to do it this time around. In 2008 I was living in Alabama and being a resident of Tennessee, I happily registered for an absentee ballot. This time I can’t be bothered. The Edinburgh University North American Society is holding sessions in the library every Wednesday until October 17th for voter registration. They are even willing to mail it off for you. But this incentive still won’t have me filling out a registration form. Which leads me to my next reason…

2) The Electoral College

MTV’s “Rock the Vote” campaign has everyone my age thinking your vote is your voice. Well, maybe if you are a resident of a swing state does your vote have potential power. I was reminded by a McCain supporter after voting in the 2008 election that my vote simply “doesn’t count anyway”. She was absolutely right. Vote Republican in New York. Vote Democrat in Alabama. You’re vote will get overturned by the majority. The voting system is flawed, but simply will never change.

3) Certainty Obama Won’t Lose

I don’t want to start a political Romney-is-the-greatest-for-our-economy-and-Obama-can-lose conversation, but the odds are in Obama’s favor. I think most are overly confident he will be 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the next four years. This overconfidence in the outcome could be an explanation for the 11 percent decrease. We are just so sure Obama will win, what would one more vote matter? Which in turn leads to my final reason…

4) Apathy

This is the main reason I am not voting. I think others my age feel (or don’t feel) the same way. The 2008 election was historical. A black man running for president, a white woman running for vice president. Either way you voted we felt as if we were making history. We were contributing to something bigger than ourselves. Well, that was fun. Now what? The hype is over and we aren’t as disillusioned as before. I graduate soon and know this degree won’t matter much. Currently, I can’t even get a part-time cafe job due to lack of experience. How the hell am I suppose to find a waitressing job after I graduate? I can read books, but I can’t make a cappuccino. But besides the increasing unemployment rate and student loan debt, …wait…is Obama on Instagram? Why the hell is Obama on Instagram? I am sick of the president-as-celebrity. E-mails, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Late Night T.V., Day Time T.V., etc.   It’s too much. This overload on social media has led me to become extremely apathetic. But then again, I am only this apathetic because of my overconfidence.

Okay, so now for a lovely quote by David Foster Wallace regarding those of us who don’t vote:

“If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don’t bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don’t bullshit yourself that you’re not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote  by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.”

-David Foster Wallace, Up, Simba!

Side note: Ellen Degeneres for 2016?


4 thoughts on “Why Young Voters Aren’t Interested in the 2012 Elections

  1. I voted for Ron Paul in the 2008 primaries. I am not voting in this election (or any election again, for that matter) for these reasons:

    1. It is ineffective. Despite campaign promises, elections rarely affect policy. Obama’s first term could’ve been truly historic- by ending expansionist wars abroad, closing Guantanamo Bay, actively supporting civil rights (the list is too long), etc.; instead, it was yet another course of a menu catered exclusively to the elite.

    2. It isn’t a choice. Both candidates are heavily funded by bankers; aren’t going to curb the runaway deficit; don’t recognize Palestine, Tibet, or the Armenian Genocide; *will* go to war with Iran.

    3. It is immoral. When you vote, you are, on some level, complicit to the violence committed by the system. It’s also a miserable, pathetic form of begging.

    4. It is a waste of time. This should be my obvious perspective after giving the reasons above, but seriously, ANY activity is more worthwhile than the process of voting. Especially when dealing with obstacles like the Voter ID Law. Taking a nap, watching Adventure Time, or eating a sandwich are all much better life choices.

    I don’t know if that’s helpful or annoying, but there you go.

  2. I’m not voting bc i feel we make little difference the electoral college is the one making the real votes? I think.. also Tenneessee has alot of ballot problems! Its like they will never get it right!

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