The youth vote dropped from 31 percent of the electorate in Colorado in 2006 to 21 percent in 2008 and just 11 percent in 2010, according the U.S. Students Association.
To find out why, New York Times columnists David Brooks and Gail Collins recently toured schools across the United States and asked students a simple question: Are government and politics your thing anymore?
Brooks found that many young Americanâ€™s want to â€œchange the world,â€ but government and politics donâ€™t seem like the right avenue, according to his Nov. 10 column.
Robert Duffy, chair of the CSU Department of Political Science, thinks that one of the reasons for this is partisan argument decrying government as a problem.
â€œTo the extent that people have accepted that message, is it any surprise that it shows up in people having negative attitudes about politics and government?â€ he said.
Duffy also cites younger peoplesâ€™ lack of time, conflicts with jobs, schools and the like as reasons for not voting. But youth turnout is also linked to whether or not they are reached out to by politicians seeking election.
â€œResearch also shows that people are more likely to vote if they are asked â€“â€“ if their vote is soughtÂ â€“â€“ and I think one could argue that younger voters are often less likely to be asked,â€ he said, because they are less likely to vote, and resources might be better invested in contacting more likely voters.
CSU students, however, do not apply to the national trend of government apathy, said Ann Malen, director of the CSU Career Center. The number of CSU graduates seeking employment at federal institutions has actually increased according to the centerâ€™s numbers.
â€œOur data shows that there was a 0.1 percent increase from last year. Thatâ€™s not much, but the fact is that CSU students arenâ€™t at all losing interest in government work,â€ she said.
A federal jobs fair hosted by the center last year drew a crowd of between 250 and 350 students. This yearâ€™s fair had 400 registered attendants.
Mayor Doug Hutchinson believes that the city is â€œproactiveâ€ when in its approach to including youth in government. A way students have a say in the making of city ordinances, he said, was through a local youth board.
â€œThatâ€™s a great way for youth to get involved in representing youth issues to government, and becoming more educated on what our government is, and what it does,â€ he said.
The next step for the city in terms of involving young people is expanding its internship program â€“â€“ â€œI think that we have a pretty healthy relationship in those ways,â€ he said.
Staff writer Andrew Carrera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.