Low Voter Turnout: What will you do about it?

By Larry Kilian and Mary Jane Kilian

Low voter turnout, particularly among young people, has reached crisis proportions – and few people seem to notice. In terms of the percent of people voting, the United States ranks near the bottom among developed countries; New York ranks near the bottom among states. If we do nothing, we can expect fewer than 20% of 18 to 24-year-olds to vote in the coming mid-term election. We need to act now to increase voter registration and turnout.

Consider these facts about voter turnout:

  • The United States with a 2016 voter turnout rate under 60% ranks 28 of 35 on a list of developed countries, with the countries at the top of the list having rates over 80%1
  • New York State with a 2016 voter turnout rate of 57.2% ranks 44 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, while the highest have turnout rates above 70%2
  • 18 to 24-year-olds in New York State in the 2016 election had turnout rates of 38.2% compared to the turnout rates of people 45 years and older who have rates over 60%2
  • Presidential election voting rates for 18 to 24-year-olds have declined from 50.9% in 1964 to 38.0% in 20123
  • Voter turnout data for a broader age group of 18 to 29-year-olds, indicates that voting has remained at or below 20% for mid-term elections since 19844

What will you do?

Sign a petition to support voting reform measures being considered in Albany:

  • Early voting: this would allow people to vote on the 13 days before the election including the two weekends before the election so people would not have to vote on a work day.
  • Same-day registration so people could register to vote up to election day: now you have to register by October 12th to vote on November 6th, 2018.
  • Automatic voter registration: for example, eligible voters would be automatically registered if they have a driver’s license.

Please sign a petition to State Senator Terrence Murphy (SD40) and State Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (AD94) urging them to support these measures:

Sign a Petition

Register to vote online right now:

Go to the Department of Motor Vehicles website and register to vote, or change your address if you have moved since you have last voted. Then change your Facebook status to “newly registered voter” and share the link to register with your friends. Young voters, make your voices heard.
Electronic Voter Registration Application

Young people, make your voices heard:

We have been amazed by the recent activism of young people who have been motivated to act against the scourge of gun violence in our country. At rallies and in interviews they have voiced their intention to pursue this issue, not just by marching, but with their vote.

We understand why the issue of gun reform resonates so strongly with these young people, and why they were moved to action—it’s about their lives. However, there are many issues—amongst them income inequality, health care, gender/racial/ethnic equality, women’s rights and Me Too, climate change, the national debt, immigration, voting rights, affording college, the burden of college debt—the resolution of which will affect their lives in myriad ways.

And so we ask young people: knowing that you want your voices to be heard, what can you do to insure that your voices—and your votes—will be heard and therefore instrumental in determining your future and the future of our country?

Join a community-wide effort:

Young voters, parents of young voters, community groups, religious communities, businesses, schools, unions, political parties, elected officials, and the media what will you do to increase voter participation, particularly the participation of young voters? — Put posters in store windows, make forms available at your meetings, promote voter registration on your websites and young people, register and brag about it on Instagram; change your Facebook status to, “Newly registered voter.”

What will you do to increase voter participation, particularly among young voters?

1. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/05/15/u-s-voter-turnout-trails-most-developed-countries/
2. https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/voting-and-registration/p20-580.html (see table 4c)
3. https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2014/demo/p20-573.html
4. http://www.electproject.org/home/voter-turnout/demographics

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