The Math of Why Young People Don’t Vote

Richard Greene
6 min readMay 9, 2023

Young people REALLY care about climate change

They REALLY care about gun violence prevention

They REALLY care about LGBTQ and other Equality issues

They REALLY care about women’s and reproductive rights

They REALLY care about voting rights

And decriminalizing Cannabis

And police reform

And on and on

But they don’t vote.

In fact only 27% of 18–29 year olds voted in The 2022 Midterms. That means more than 7 out of every 10 young people in that age group — who generally care deeply about those issues — did NOT vote.

Political scientists and civic engagement groups correctly point to many reasons, including:

1. Historically young people don’t vote nearly as much as older people

2. Young people tend to be focused on other, more tangible and immediate things

3. Most young people feel that the system is “broken”, “doesn’t work” for them and that their vote “doesn’t count”.

4. Young people are likely to believe that both parties in America are pretty much the same and that most politicians are “bought and paid for” and don’t relate to them.

And there are others.

And for decades and decades, parties and candidates have tried to address these impediments and, finally, get young people to vote at rates closer to older voters.

But it has never, ever really worked. Little blips — like in 2018 because of Parkland or during the Vietnam war when young people’s lives were literally on the line — but nothing sustainable.

They try “canvassing” and “deep canvassing” and organizing and appeals from celebrities and influencers and on-campus programs to make voting cool and get out the vote, and so many other things.

But it has never, ever really worked.

Why?

Because of basic math and the REFUSAL to do the one thing that would change the math . . . TEACH CIVICS!

Let’s start with the math of voting.

Let’s say there’s a continuum of desire/motivation/likelihood to vote from 0 (no chance) to 10 (100% certainty).

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Richard Greene

“The Civics Dean” is a Political Communication Strategist and a former attorney and “Civics Educator” and author of “WTF are ‘The Midterms’?” @TheCivicsDean