What Happened to the Youth Vote? What Happened to the Youth Vote? What Happened to the Youth Vote? What Happened to the Youth Vote?

After months of aggressive courting from both the Democratic and Republican parties, the youth vote did not make an impressive showing at the polls this Tuesday. According to Associated Press exit polls, youth participation was at a similar level to that of four years ago. Fewer than one in 10 voters were first time voters in both elections. There was, however, one large difference in youth voter demographics between last election and this election. While the youth vote was split evenly in 2000, this year the youth vote went overwhelming to Kerry. The apparent political apathy of the youth in this country is astounding. After national campaigns like “Rock the Vote” and hundreds of local rallies on college campuses throughout the country, how do young women and men not care enough to cast a vote? If pop culture, peer pressure, and the opportunity to rebel against the established order cannot get young America away from their televisions and computer monitors,, what can? It is clear, after the election, that a more significant turnout among the countries’ newest voters would have made a difference. Indeed, this nation is ours to inherit. In order to preserve it for our children, we must exercise the right that our forebearers fought to give us so many generations ago. A curious disease has afflicted the youth of this nation. Although many Americans in their late teens and twenties harbor strong political beliefs, many of them do not vote. With elections as closely decided as this one, clearly young people’s voices and votes do make a difference. Andover students have never been ones to eschew political debate. On the contrary, this school has a proud tradition of political activism and public service – how many schools can boast two United States presidents, among other things? Most PA students were not old enough to vote in this election; however, many will have the opportunity to vote in the next congressional elections and most will be able to vote in the 2008 presidential election. It is the duty and privilege of all citizens of the United States to vote – especially those of us who will grow up to live with the consequences of our leaders’ decisions.