Report: Why Don’t Millennials Vote for Mayor?

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The Knight Foundation recently released a report that examined why millennial voters overwhelmingly do not cast ballots in local elections.

Titled, “Why Don’t Millennials Vote for Mayor,” the report took a hard look at the barriers and motivators related to local elections.

Here’s a excerpt from the introduction:

Local elections are missing millions of millennial voters who participate in national elections but not ones in their cities. This led Knight Foundation to embark on research to explore factors that may be hampering turnout in local elections among millennials, focusing specifically on millennials who participated in the last national elections but not in their local elections.The research aims to identify the causes of low millennial voter turnout in local elections and possible approaches for encouraging more informed local voting which brings more citizen voice to local government.
Here were some interesting findings from the report:
  • As was highly documented, voter turnout during the 2014 midterm election was the lowest it’s been in 72 years (36.3 percent). It was even lower among millennials (21.5 percent). Turnout for local elections is even lower and declining. A study of turnout for mayoral elections in the 144 largest U.S. cities found that turnout dipped from 24.9 percent in 1999 to 21 percent in 2011.
  • Millennials report lower levels of trust in government than the general population. Sixty percent of people say they trust local government a great deal or fair amount compared with only 33 percent of millennial voters who reported trusting their local government a great deal or fair amount.

The report also found that there were several factors that could be affecting low voter turnout for local elections, such as:

Less local media coverage:

A recent study found that a diminished news environment depresses citizen engagement. With recent cutbacks to local and state journalism, voters have less information to evaluate candidates and ballot initiatives and ultimately are less likely to vote.
High mobility among millennials:
Research shows high mobility decreases political participation and this likely impacts millennials most since they move more often than any other age segment
Low rates of home ownership:
Studies have pointed to a correlation between home ownership and increases in local voting, with homeowners who have lived in the community for a long time voting at higher rates. Since millennials own homes at lower rates than other age groups, this may depress their turnout.
The 21-page report is well worth the read. To access the entire document, click here.

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