Bending History

Category: Blog

Would 18-25 year-olds have changed the past if they had gone to the polls?
Should there be an app?

The presidential election is behind us, but students who think of the 49% to %51 split of the electorate as the “voice of the people” may not realize that 40% of eligible voters did not vote. This 11/08 opinion column from the New York Daily News makes it clear that younger voters are among the groups that under-represent themselves at the polls.

Before sharing the column, begin by asking students for their best guess on the percentage of people who voted in the November 7, 2012 presidential election. Discourage numbers out of the air. Ask for their reasoning, then place the guess on the board. [Go deeper with a continuation of this activity using this link to a breakdown of voters by age [http://www.civicyouth.org/quick-facts/youth-voting/], and this article from Pew on the distinctive views of young people.

Ask them to reflect and comment. Young voters have been under-represented for years. For example, in 1972, at the height of the Vietnam War (and when 18 year old had just gotten the vote), barely 55% of those eligible to vote did so.

Would history have been different if eligible young people had voted? A number of the charts in this article from Pew track the views of younger voters.

Ask students if something should be done to get more people to the polls. Should it be made easier or are things fine the way they are?

Posted by Maureen Grolnick

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