Addressing Youth Apathy through Political Education and Engagement

Every four years, the United States experiences a day of unity, expression, equality, and freedom: Presidential Election Day. This highly anticipated event, extensively covered by media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, grants every U.S. citizen over the age of eighteen the right to participate in a pivotal moment of democracy. One can opt for the discreet and secretive expression of their opinion within the voting booth or take a more vocal approach, engaging in heated debates, displaying campaign signs, or even participating in protests.

A Curious Observation

However, amid the excitement and tumult of the general election day, a concerning trend emerges — the youth of the nation, belonging to Generation Y, seems disinterested, comfortably situated in their dorm rooms with no intention of casting their ballots. Witnessing this lack of political activity prompts a personal introspection, leading to the question of whether I, too, should care enough to exercise my right to vote.

The Decline in Youth Voter Turnout

Statistics reveal a stark reality: young voters, aged 18-34, have exhibited a consistent decline in voter turnout during general elections.

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In 1972, 53 percent of 18-29 year-olds participated in the polls, a number that dwindled to 35 percent by the year 2000, marking a new historical low. This decline in political engagement poses a significant concern for my fellow Generation Y peers and me.

The Consequence of Non-Participation

The underlying issue becomes apparent — by choosing not to vote, we inadvertently choose not to have anyone representing our ideals and political agendas in the government. At a time when challenges like escalating student-loan debt, a staggering unemployment rate, and an overall decline in the quality of life persist, Generation Y possesses more reason than ever to actively influence political change.

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As Wilson aptly states, "People who try to have influence on government are going to have more influence than people who do not try" (161). It all begins with the polls.

Unpacking the Causes of Apathy

Various causes of political apathy among the younger generation have been identified, and attempts have been made to attract these voters. One significant hurdle is the registration process, a particularly relevant concern for college students. First-time voters must navigate the intricacies of obtaining a registration form, learning when and how to register, and subsequently delivering it. Unlike the older generation, younger voters are typically unsettled, making the voting process more cumbersome.

Registration Challenges for College Students

According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, over a quarter of college students report not registering to vote due to a lack of knowledge or missing the deadline. The complexity of the process is evident, although efforts have been made to simplify it, such as the motor-voter bill of 1993, allowing citizens to register while applying for a driver’s license (Wilson 166).

The Role of Political Education

One of the most significant causes for lower voter turnout among young people lies in the admission of my own roommate, Paige Toepper. As a first-time voter, Paige abstained from the 2012 election, confessing her lack of prior engagement in political issues and feeling ill-equipped to make informed decisions suddenly. Her sentiments resonate with a common theme on our entire floor — it's not that Generation Y doesn't care to vote; rather, we haven't had the chance to be exposed to politics in an informative light that instills confidence in our beliefs.

A Proposal for Political Education

The root of the problem lies in the education system. To address this issue, it is crucial to integrate politics and current events into high school curricula. This educational initiative should encompass not only the political issues but also the entire process of registering first-time voters. By providing a foundational understanding, those who have not been exposed to politics will have a base to fall back on, fostering a sense of confidence in their political decisions.

The Urgency of Youth Involvement

The low voter turnout among the younger generation poses a serious threat to the future of America. If young people do not allow their voices to be heard and influence government decisions, the trajectory of the nation remains uncertain. Initiating the habit of voting at a young age is crucial, as it establishes a foundation for exercising this fundamental right throughout one's life. Integrating politics into high school curricula stands out as a pragmatic solution, paving the way for an engaged, informed, and empowered electorate.


In conclusion, the observed apathy among young voters demands attention and remedial action. The solution lies not only in addressing the complexities of voter registration but also in fundamentally transforming the education system. By integrating politics into high school curricula, we can instill political awareness, empower the younger generation, and pave the way for innovative ideas that will shape the future of our society.

Updated: Jan 02, 2024
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Addressing Youth Apathy through Political Education and Engagement. (2016, May 03). Retrieved from

Addressing Youth Apathy through Political Education and Engagement essay
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