I can't help but wonder if the folks who put together efforts to encourage younger people to vote might be better served by lobbying for online voting. I know a lot's been written about the security of online voting, but if we could get security issues taken care of, online voting could revolutionize our political system.
Low voter turnout has become such an issue over the years that politicians often write off entire demographic groups within their own constituencies, opting to concentrate on groups of people that actually turn out at the polls. Senior citizens are an important group, while the 18-24 age group is not.
Just for giggles a few weeks back, Jimmy, Eric and I were looking at some MRI runs that crosstabbed people who voted in any election against political persuasion, age and a few other breakouts. Folks who don't vote tend to be younger and most of them have access to the Internet. They also tend to lean to the left from a political standpoint. Just based on the raw numbers, it's easy to see that implementation of online voting would give liberal candidates a distinct boost.
Especially on the local level, I'd like to see online voting become a reality. Where I'm from, senior citizens enjoy political influence that far outweighs their numbers. There are several retirement communities not far from my place on Long Island and it's very difficult to make investments in education because any significant increase in the schools budget tends to get voted down due to the high percentage of senior citizens who don't want to see an increase in their taxes. Local politicians spend a disproportionate amount of time catering to these senior citizen groups and little if any time on issues of importance to younger people, quite simply because they know the retirement communities will bus senior citizens to the polls on election day, and the younger people seem to want to spend Election Day playing Madden Football on their PlayStations.
I'll probably get some comments about how people who don't vote forfeit their rights to complain if their politicians don't adequately represent them. But I can't help but think that making voting easier would help level the playing field a bit. We'd certainly get more participation.
So maybe efforts should concentrate more on lobbying for online voting rather than trying to get more youngsters to turn out.