But Do You Even Vote, Though? — The Myth About Millennial Voting

I know what you’re thinking…….

“Great. Another holier than thou article on all the reasons I should vote. “

It IS important that you vote, but that’s not what this is about. So, keep reading.

This article is about the common thought that millennials are too lazy to vote.

Baby Boomer’s and Gen X’ers have been making this statement since the first millennial was old enough to cast a vote. But is there any truth to it?

“Well, you can’t even get this generation of millennials to make the effort to vote!”

Have you heard that before? I have! Just last week, actually.

Even though I’m a millennial voter, I’ve heard this said so many times that I started to believe it too. So, as any good myth debunker does I began searching for facts.

And guess what I found?

Hello Pot, Meet Kettle

With a little help from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) and the Pew Research Center, I discovered something interesting!

Fun Facts:

  • When Baby Boomers were in the 18 to 24 age range, 26% of them voted in midterm elections.
  • When Generation X’ers were in the 18 to 24 age range, 21% of them voted in midterm elections.
  • When Millennials were in the 18 to 24 age range, 20% of them voted in midterm elections.

Summary:

18–24 years-olds, no matter when they were 18–24, were within 6% of each other in voter turnout for midterms. So, nothing major there!

GOOD NEWS ALERT: CIRCLE is estimating that roughly 31% of folks ages 18–29 turned out to vote in the recent 2018 midterms!

More Fun Facts:

This time I looked at presidential election voter turnout for Baby Boomers and Millennials only. Data was taken during years when the oldest and youngest Baby Boomers became eligible to vote and was compared to when the oldest and youngest Millennials became eligible to vote. For the sake of comparing apples to apples as closely as possible, I selected the first 4 presidential elections after each group became voter eligible.

In the bar graph below you are looking at years 1972 (chosen due to the 1971 26th Amendment), 1976, 1980 and 1984 for Baby Boomers and years 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 for Millennials.

Summary:

Comparing voters in the same age range, Baby Boomers and Millennial voter turnouts during presidential elections stayed very close with the largest gap being 7% and the smallest gap at 1%.

But There Are Other Differences!

Yes, I know. There are differences in voting today versus in 1972. In fact, it has probably never been easier to physically vote than it is today.

Between absentee voting, online registration, [some] workplace shutdowns, public transportation, convenient polling locations, and constant reminders on television, radio, and social media there is literally NOTHING stopping you from voting if you want to vote.

But, voting technology hasn’t changed since 1972 nearly as much as we might think it has. I asked my favorite Baby Boomer (my beautiful mom) what voting was like in the 70’s and she said, “Same basic thing really. Not a lot of difference.”

So, while there are some obvious differences between voting in 1972 and 2018, they aren’t vast enough differences to skew the numbers greatly.

Well, I Guess Millennials Aren’t Bad Americans After All

You’re right. We’re not.

Millennials, like Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers, went through a period in life where voting just seemed …well….less important. Generation Z will most likely experience the same.

Who cares more about social security and Medicare, a 20-year-old or a 65-year-old?

Who is likely to have more time to get to the polls, a 20-year-old in college and working or a 65-year-old retiree?

Of course, we care about our futures, but it just seems more urgent when it’s on your doorstep.

I know, I know. It is more fun and makes us feel much better about ourselves to pretend like we’re somehow superior to those coming along behind us and I’m sorry to steal your thunder. With that said, it is time to move past the negative (and inaccurate) perception now that we’ve debunked this popular myth.

Voter turnout has little to do with generation and everything to do with age and place in life.

And don’t worry, no #FAKENEWS here.

Originally published at themillennialsmantra.com on November 14, 2018.

Hi, I’m Ashlee, founder of The Millennial’s Mantra at www.themillennialsmantra.com. I am a shifting weather front. You might enjoy me. You might not.

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