Friday, December 15, 2000

Young voters: Some left cynical after this election

By Lori Hayes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The debacle that was the 2000 presidential election won't keep Loni Johnson away from the polls. She voted this year and will again.

        But most of her peers don't vote, and the 18-year-old from Cincinnati says they'll be even less likely to cast a ballot in the next election.

        Young people have the worst record for going to the polls. And many are even more turned off after this year's recounts and court battles, Ms. Johnson said.

        “It looks like something is wrong with the voting process,” she said Wednesday. “They're just fighting back and forth, and these are the people that are supposed to represent us.”

        Crystal Ford disagrees.

        The 24-year-old NKU student from Tompkinsville said the tight race between Al Gore and George W. Bush piqued interest in the election process and turnout among younger voters will probably go up in 2004.

        “I don't think anybody knew anything about the electoral college before this,” she said.

        Voter turnout has been dismally low among 18- to 24-year-olds. About one in every three Americans in this age group voted in the past two presidential elections. In 1972, the first presidential elec tion after the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18, about half of 18- to 24-year-olds voted.

        James Lipscomb, who turned 18 just after the election, said he's already disillusioned by the political process. The parties bend the rules to suit their own agendas, he said.

        “The election showed that they can get away with making up their own laws,” the Alexandria man said.

        Although the confusion over the Florida ballots has clouded her view of the election process, Megan Abbott, 24, of Erlanger, said it has heightened national interest.

        “It won't change my mind on voting. I've always voted and will keep voting,” she said.

        Americans age 18-24 were the least likely to pay close attention to the election, talk about the issues or follow the process in the news, according to Harvard University's Vanishing Voter project.

        But if anything can get young people to the polls, it's the drama around this year's election, said Jeff Rust, 21, of Alexandria. “They're more likely to vote after seeing how close it was this year.”

        “You can see how easily it can be swayed,” said Rob Brooker, 21, also of Alexandria.

        Mr. Rust and Mr. Brooker did not vote this year. Too busy, not familiar with the issues, they said. So will they be at the polls in four years?



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- Young voters: Some left cynical after this election
Tristate A.M. Report