4 Ways America Discourages Young People from Voting

As a society, we often criticize younger generations for being politically disengaged, but is it possible the system is designed to be that way?

Voting rules popping up around the country seem specifically designed to disenfranchise young people rather than encourage them to register. Given that millennials are significantly more likely to lean liberal, it’s not hard to guess why certain right-wing groups might underhandedly alter the rules to prevent new voters from signing up. Here’s a look out how they’re discouraging young people from voting:

1. Making Registration More Difficult

Are non-citizens registering to vote? Statistics say infrequently, but that’s not going to stop some politicians from enacting laws that require new voter registrants to first prove they are citizens. Arizona and Kansas have enacted legislation requiring wannabe voters to provide physical proof like a birth certificate or passport. Federally, signing a sworn affidavit that you are a citizen is considered sufficient.

Though these new rules seem geared toward undocumented immigrants, they also impact young Americans. As younger generations come of age and then because of these laws face obstacles in getting signed up, they’re more likely to not follow through or indefinitely put off the process. In essence, all of those get-out-the-vote drives are useless, because who is walking around with a birth certificate?

2. Cutting Out Teenage Pre-Registration

One thing that could help fix this situation would be to give new voters more time to register. Though rules differ from state to state, North Carolina, for example, has thrown out its pre-registration rules that previously allowed 16 and 17-year-old citizens to sign up to vote in advance. By taking away the chance for young adults to get registered while they still live with their parents (who are most likely the keepers of important documents like birth certificates) it makes it more likely that new voters will be deterred from or have insufficient documentation to register once they are already 18.

3. No Same Day Registration

Between school, employment, and social lives, time inevitably flies by and inconsistent and early voter registration deadlines leave young would-be voters ineligible to participate in the upcoming election before they even realize they’ve been shut out.

Voter laws that prevent people from signing up on Election Day are particularly detrimental to millennials. In states that have experimented with same day registration, the youngest Americans took advantage of this availability over 2.5 times more than older Americans. By making deadlines significantly earlier than most people are even thinking about voting, it definitely prevents potential new voters from participating.

4. Voter ID Restrictions

Though voter ID laws were seemingly instituted to stand in the way of minority and low-income voters participating at the polls, it also has an effect on at least 700,000 young Americans.

Technically, plenty of young Americans do have identifications — student IDs, to be precise — but for whatever reason those are considered inappropriate at polling stations. College identifications almost always include pictures and universities don’t exactly hand them out willy-nilly, yet the powers that be refuse to acknowledge them as sufficient.

On the other hand, a gun permit in Texas is all the identification you need to vote. It’s hard to imagine which party pushed those rules through… .

Photo credit: Thinkstock.


James N.
James N3 years ago

I'll never forget the first time I voted. I showed up at the little voting place. There was a long line of people that went literally out into the parking lot. I was 18 and there was this (to me) ancient man who was pretty frail standing in line.

I remember it impressing the hell out of me. He could have just stayed home. But he went to the trouble of coming to vote and standing in line for however long it was going to take.

I learned a lesson from that guy that day. That was ~31 years ago. He's probably long dead and I never knew his name. But I'll never forget him and that example will stick with me.

That said, whatever rules they make up shouldn't stop anyone from voting. Nothing should stop them. However, as I get older, I'm now asking myself if voting even makes a difference. That's the real question.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H4 years ago

Interesting discussions. Thanks for sharing.

Will Rogers
Will Rogers4 years ago

They can find you when they want to tax you but not when you want to vote? Why isn't your voting registrations the same as your social security number as in all other countries in the world? In England we don't have to register to vote, it is compulsory as soon as you reach 18, it is not a choice, it is an option. No taxation without representation goes both ways...if you're not allowed to vote, then you should not pay taxes for a system in which you are not allowed to participate in.

BMutiny TCorporationsEvil

The GOParasites totally freaked when Young People voted en masse for Obama - TWICE!!! And poll after poll shows that the GOPathetic are UNPOPULAR, to put it mildly, with the Coming-of-age.

So, naturally, the Repukelicans who are unfortunately in power because of mid-term elections where the Voter turnout is not big, are doing EVERY POSSIBLE SNEAKY TRICK THEY CAN to dis-enfranchise Young Voters. OF COURSE! Exactly what you'd EXPECT them to do!
For example, the Rethugs try to ordain that they can't Vote where they are going to College, but have to travel maybe miles to their "home towns" just to Vote in an election... that's just ONE underhanded sly maneuver.

People politically interested in DEFEATING the Evil, Slimy GOPerverts, must do the following:
2] Make absolutely SURE that the Voter has all the requisite I.D., correct NAME on the Registration {initials, name after marriage or divorce, etc.}, check and DOUBLE-CHECK. And then check AGAIN. Each Voting year...
3] Darn it, VOTE IN THOSE MID-TERM ELECTIONS! That's what they're counting on people NOT doing...
And make SURE to especially pay attention to Registering:
Young People; Women; the Poor; the Elderly; and Minorities.

Maria Teresa Schollhorn

Thank you.

Susan T.
Susan T4 years ago

seriously? what a bunch of BS.

Karen H.
Karen H4 years ago

A lot of people don't vote because they're afraid they'll get called for jury duty. Guess again, people. That's not the only way you're called. Voting is a right. Use it before it gets taken away from us.

Donnaa D.
donnaa D4 years ago


Aaron Bouchard
Aaron Bouchard4 years ago

Thank you

Catrin K.

And let us not mention Florida where elderly and minorities were intimidated in order to discourage them from not voting .