Washington leaders are not only questioning why more millennials don’t engage in the political process, but they’re also looking for solutions to boost participation.
Fewer than half of Washingtonians between the ages of 18 and 29 voted in the 2012 national election. That’s compared to 70 percent of voters 30 and older.
Disengaged youth was this year’s topic at a forum put on Friday by the Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service and the Jackson Foundation in Olympia.
Millennials are more diverse, socially connected and volunteer more than their parents — but they are less likely to cast a ballot, said Kei Kewashima-Ginsberg, deputy director at the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.
Lack of passion among millennials isn’t the problem. Young people don’t make the connection between voting and making an impact, said Emile Netzhammer, the Chancellor of Washington State University.
“They don’t see immediate change or necessarily any change at all,” said Netzhammer. He said that has created an apathetic political climate, where millennials have a distrust in the process and believe that one vote doesn’t matter.
One panelist argued that the problem of low voter turnout among young people is often exaggerated. Lindsay Pryor, Voter Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Washington Secretary of State office, assured the audience that as people get older, they vote more.
“If you look at baby boomers, they did not vote more than millennials when they were young,” said Pryor. (more…)