In a recent survey Idaho was ranked 18th among the states on how it treats its young voters, typically 18-29 years of age. The survey was conducted by Rock the Vote, which says on its website that its mission “is to engage and build political power for young people …”
The group based its analysis for each state on the ease of registering to vote and casting a ballot, and how civics education is taught in high school. Among the reasons Idaho was ranked 18th and not higher is the state’s requirement to show a government-issued ID before casting a ballot. On the other hand, Idaho picked up points because it allows same-day registration of voters.
IdahoReporter.com asked a few young voters their reaction to the survey and their views on why or why not they vote. None of them listed high school civics or proof of identity as a deciding factor.
Bryan Smith, 24, a call center representative at Hewlett-Packard, does not vote. “Honestly I do not vote because of my lack of motivation. I have enough going on in my regular scheduled day such as what video game should I play, and where are my shoes? As you can tell it may also be because of my sarcasm. It seems that my vote may not matter, and why invest time and effort into learning about the ‘issues’ or what prop to say yes, or no to, when I am only one person. Plus everyone I know that pays close attention to politics, and the upcoming ballot is angry at something. Better to be stupid and happy rather than smart and mad.”
Lauren Anderson, 23, works in Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson’s office. She votes because it gives her the right to voice her opinion on issues. “I vote because my job depends on it, it’s simple and easy, and if I didn’t I would have no possible option of complaining about decisions that are being made.”
Derek Christensen, 23, an engineering student at Boise State University, does vote but says he does so with caution. He believes, at least on a national level, that politics is turning into huge dollar signs for those in office. “I actually vote but very tentatively. I feel that everyone that I can vote for is only doing it because of the huge dollar signs that go with the job. By dollar signs, I am including all the benefits that they get. They are not going into government to try to improve our country or at least stabilize it. This has become apparent from the raises in their pay as our neighborhood businesses are shutting down left and right as congressmen are getting huge homes up in the hills, and the people with a mortgage are losing their homes. I feel like the entire system is corrupt and there is more going on behind the curtains than we all think. There is a reason why these people spend millions upon millions of dollars for a job that only pays 400k (the president’s annual salary).”
Joe Decker, 26, a producer at KTRV Fox12, votes but tends to stay away from local elections, focusing on national issues. He also believes the proof of ID is a good thing. “I do vote, but rarely in the local elections. I figure Idaho is already bleeding red, so why bother. As for the polling process in Idaho, I think it’s fine. It does take a long time to vote, but I’m pretty sure you sign up for that when you head down to the polls. Also, I think you should be required to show ID, so no qualms there. In fact, it blows me away that you don’t have to show ID in some places.”
Founded 20 years ago, Rock the Vote says it “has registered more young people to vote than any other organization or campaign, and we intend to register and turn out millions more in years to come – and to be the best-informed place online where young people can find out what they need to know before casting a ballot.”
The voting advocacy group focuses on voters age 18-29. It counts 2008 as its most successful year, registering 2.2 million young voters. It says it “is dedicated to building the political power and clout of the Millennial Generation by registering and turning out young people, by forcing the candidates to campaign to them, and by making politicians pay attention to youth and the issues they care about once in office.”
Idaho’s neighboring states generally fared better in the survey. Washington, in fact, ranked 1st, Utah 4th, Oregon 5th, Wyoming 14th, and Utah 20th. On the other end of the scale, the three states judged lowest were Connecticut, South Carolina and Virginia.
Rock the Vote says in the 2014 election there will be 44 million potential voters under the age of 29, or about one-fifth of the eligible voters. Of those, 61 percent are white, 17 percent Hispanic, 15 percent black and 4 percent Asian.