The often-overlooked reasons why young people don’t vote

“Young people are attending college, often in a different location from where they grew up. They’re working full-time or part-time while attending school, often at low-wage jobs that can have unstable work schedules. They don’t have access to transportation. They move around a lot, change schools, or study abroad. They don’t know where they’ll be living three months in the future.

“You think about the fact that most 40-year-olds … have a stable workweek where you kind of know when you’ll fit voting in on that first Tuesday in November,” said Sunshine Hillygus, a political science professor at Duke University who co-wrote a book on young voters, on the EdSurge podcast. “Whereas young people have a far more fluid and unstable schedule and lifestyle.”

Registering to vote — and figuring out where and how to vote — can look easy on paper. But for many young adults, getting clear instructions, along with all the variables that can change at the last minute, is more challenging than you might think. Hillygus suggests reforms that ease the process of voting, such as preregistering young people to vote in high school or when they get their driver’s license at 16, as well as better overall civic education in schools that connect government and politics with teens’ everyday lives.

Vox spoke to three young people who encountered logistical difficulties that prevented or nearly prevented them from voting. All of them wanted to make clear that they and their young peers do want to vote, but that the barriers to making it happen can feel daunting.”

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