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Audio: Youth Vote Improves, But Still Has Far To Go

8 November 2008 No Comment

By Karen Weise

CLICK TO LISTEN:
[audio:http://rosebud.journalism.berkeley.edu/~j200/510report/youth_vote.mp3]

Splashed across headlines and news channels, this was to be the year of the youth vote.

CBS clip: “On Tuesday, the election could very well come down to young voters.”

Low and behold, young voters did turn out in droves. Researchers at Tufts University estimated that 52 percent of eligible youth voted this year, rivaling previous record highs from 1992 and 1972.

James Correa, 20

James Correa, 20

Yet still, even with these record highs, only half of eligible youth turned out for the polls. What gives?

20 year old James Correa kicked back on a bench while waiting for BART on election day. Though he’s followed the election closely, he says he’s given up on getting his friends involved.

James Correa: “Yeah, they do not vote, just because they do not care really. It sucks to say, but they just don’t care.”

This year, it seemed like the stars were aligned to obliterate previous turnout patterns. We’ve seen tremendous dissatisfaction with the current president. We had the first real post-baby boomer candidate, let alone the first viable African-American candidate, we have a plummeting economy, and all of this coming together in the explosion of campaigning over the internet, cell phones, you name it.

Jose Quintanilla, 18

Jose Quintanilla, 18

So how can it be, in this historic election, so many youth still did not vote.

Turns out, it’s the same reasons as always.

Jose Quintanilla: “Actually, I’m not going to vote.”

Karen Weise: “Why not?”

JQ: “Because I felt like my vote wasn’t going to count or anything.”

That’s 18 year old Jose Quintanilla. He used to be more politically involved, but he’s been questioning if government is really looking out for him.

Shauna Morgan, 27

Shauna Morgan, 27

Then there’s Shauna Morgan, a 27 year old with a bounce in her step that belies just how much she has going on.

Shauna Morgan: “With a three year old and a ten month old, you know, there’s a lot of things that I would like to have voted for, but it’s just too hard to keep up with right now with the custody battle and everything going on with me.”

And others, well, they’re just plain old not into it:

19 year old Darrett Woon estimates that 20 of his friends voted, but he did not head to the polls.

Darrett Woon: “I don’t really care. I don’t know. Politics isn’t my thing kinda.”

Darrett Woon, 19

Darrett Woon, 19

Shauna and Darrett and Jose, they all said they think they’ll vote at some point in the future. But overall in this election, almost 40 percent of the nation’s electorate did not vote, so perhaps it will take more than a historic election to buck the trend.

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