Young Voters

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, young voters tend not to register to vote and have the lowest turn-out numbers on election days. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports.

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Americans ages 18 to 24 tend not to vote and it's been a trend dating back to 1971 when the 26th constitutional amendment was adopted. University of Houston Center for Public Policy Director Jim Granato says the 2004 election had a different result.

"The election of 2004 there was a sharp turn out of 18-24 year olds that's what the census data tells us. Whether that continues we don't know but turn out was up amongst all age groups but highest amongst 18 to 24 year olds. So it's possible that trend will continue given the way the war is going."

And that's the war in Iraq.

"The younger voters are definitely cued in on the Iraq War. The Iraq War has been named the most important issue if you look at some of the polls out there. Younger votes tend to be the ones who think this is the most important issue but then very old voters tend to make this the most important issue."

Analysts won't know until after Tuesday if the higher younger voter turn out of 2004 will repeat itself this year. Granato says there've been many reasons why younger people tend not to vote. One is they tend to move a lot.

"so the idea of having to register every time you move, it's a pain. So that's one thing that discourages the voting. Another thing is you tend to be more likely to participate in the system if you have children."

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute has launched research looking at what factors could increase voter turn out among younger Americans. Senior Research Fellow Doctor Gary Scott...

"We looked at numerous factors in one of the more interesting influences was how much they learned during the four years in college about American History institutions. What we found was that if they learned 10 percent more then there likelihood to vote increased by 4 percent and that was a statistically significant relationship."

Scott says they are going to continue to look at how college education in the areas of history, political science and economics can result in more young Americans voting. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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