Daily Video

November 1, 2018

Youth vote in America: Why these teens say low voter turnout days are done



Directions: Read the summary, and, if time permits, read through the recent findings of the Harvard Institute of Politics poll on the youth vote. Watch the video above from the NewsHour’s youth journalism program, Student Reporting Labs, and the four election videos below. They are short, but if time is an issue, then just pick one! Turn on the captions (hit “CC”) to help students follow along easier. Lastly, answer the discussion questions below.


Summary: Why do young people hold some of the lowest voter turnout levels in the U.S.? Is it really their fault? And why might the 2018 elections see some record-breaking turnout among younger voters? Teen reporters from NewsHour Student Reporting Labs (SRL) reveal the issues that matter most to young voters in the new series, Turning Out: The Youth Vote. From Miami, Florida to Fort Payne, Alabama, student journalists from SRL’s national network of 135 schools conducted more than 300 interviews to explore the impact of the youth vote. According to a new poll from the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School, young people, 18-29, could turn out to vote in the 2018 election in record numbers. Why do you think that’s the case? Here’s some information from the study.


1. “Forty percent (40%) of 18- to 29-year olds indicate that they are likely to vote on November 6.


2. Since 1986, based on data collected and analyzed by the U.S. Census, the only times that midterm turnout among young Americans surpassed 20 percent was in 1986 (21%) and 1994 (21%).”


3. “President Trump’s approval rating stands at 26 percent among all young Americans, and 25 percent among likely voters.”


4. “Slightly more than a quarter (26%) of young Americans approve of President Trump’s handling of the Kavanaugh nomination.”


5. “Looking ahead to 2020, 11 percent of young Americans tell us they are “sure to” vote to re-elect President Trump, and eight percent (8%) say there is a good chance — while 59 percent say that they will “never vote for him” and nine percent (9%) percent say that they are unlikely to do so. Among young Republicans, 37 percent say that they are “sure to” to vote to re-elect him; five percent (5%) of Independents and two percent (2%) of Democrats say the same.”


6. A good deal of support among young people for:

  • “A federal jobs guarantee that would provide funding so that every American would be guaranteed a job paying at least $15 an hour and offering paid family/sick leave and health benefits: 56% support, 20% oppose among all 18-29 year-olds (18% don’t know); 63% support, 24% oppose among likely voters (10% don’t know).

  • Eliminating tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities for students from families that make up to $125,000 per year and making community college tuition-free for all income levels: 56% support, 20% oppose among all 18- 29 year-olds (18% don’t know); 62% support, 25% oppose among likely voters (11% don’t know).”





Discussion questions:


1. Essential question: Why don’t more young people vote?


2. What video did you learn the most from? Why? What are some facts you learned about voting and elections?


3. Why might the 2018 midterm elections see historic levels of young people voting?


4. What are the obstacles that Americans face when it comes to voting, including registering to vote and on election day itself?


5. Why do you think young people favor Democratic candidates more than Republican candidates? Why do even larger numbers of young people say they will not vote for President Donald Trump in 2020?


6. It’s important all voices are heard in class and no one feel left out of the conversation. What should you do if you think your viewpoint is not being heard in class?


7. Media literacy:

a. What questions about voting would you have asked the students featured in these videos? (Note: These are a few videos out of a long series.) Do you think adults are apt to watch these videos? Should they? Why or why not?


b. How do you know if a poll is reliable? What can you find out about the Harvard Institute of Politics that might tell you of its reputation and history of conducting reliable polls?


c. Research three different news organizations on the issue of the youth vote. How does the media cover poor voter turnout among young adults? Why might different news outlets cover the topic differently, some being more critical of young people than others?


Extension activities:


Watch all of the Turning out the Youth Vote video series via PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs.


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