Thursday, November 04, 2004

don't discount me, i voted, and so did my friends

There's been people on both sides blaming the youth for low turnout again- and saying that it cost Kerry the election. Turns out it's not true.
Start with the numbers. According to professor William Galston at the University of Maryland, at least 20.9 million Americans under 30 voted on Tuesday. That is an increase of 4.6 million voters from 2000. Four years ago, just 42.3 percent of young people voted. This year more than 51.6 percent did.

Young people were especially active in battleground states, with turnout at 64.4 percent of eligible voters. Furthermore, these estimates understate things, because college kids are more likely than other groups (except the military) to vote by absentee ballot. Surveys of college students around the country, done in the weeks before the election, found 42 percent of students planning to vote absentee. Exit polls completely miss these young voters who numbered, this year, close to 3 million.

That is, according to the article, the highest youth vote turnout since 1972. It also threatens the assumption that absentee ballots will go to a Republican candidate, as seemed to be the fear in Florida and Ohio this year (it makes sense to me, I mean, I voted absentee in CA in the smaller elections while at UW).

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Democrats attempt to blame part of Kerry's loss on the youth not turning out at the polls feels like an excuse to ignore us for four more years. It's true that if you don't vote, politicians won't pay attention to your needs. But we did vote this time, and to ignore us again in the next congressional and presidential elections would be a big mistake.

[Via Kos. Be sure to check out what the electoral map would have looked like if only the youth vote had been counted. Or maybe you like purple better.]