Nov 082010
Authors: Keeley Blakley

Nationally, young people totaled 11 percent of the electorate in the 2010 midterm election, according to the U.S. Students Association. An estimated 20.9 percent of young eligible voters actually cast ballots.

In areas where voters between the ages of 18 and 29 are organized and actively engaged by candidates, voting among young people increased significantly.

“We always have a rigorous campaign for getting young people to vote,” said Lindsay McCluskey, president of the U.S. Students Association, USSA. “We want to ensure that young people are engaged in elections, even when candidates aren’t actively engaging them.”

It is estimated that 23.5 percent of young people voted in 2006 –– 2.6 percent higher than in 2010. McCluskey said that the results are based off of polling done as voters leave voting centers and that this difference is within the margin of error. Therefore, 2006 and 2010 had comparable young voter turnout.

States that are predominantly Democratic had 18.8 percent of young people voting, while Republican states had 22.6 percent. Competitive states, or those that do not favor one party, had 23.6 percent of young people voting.

The 2006 midterm election showed that 31 percent of eligible young people voted in Colorado.

Colorado is a competitive state and this year’s Senate race was extremely heated, said Sandra Davis, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science. While competitive races generally have higher voter turnout, the nastiness of this year’s election may have deterred many young voters, Davis added.

“Democracies don’t work very well if people don’t participate,” Davis said. “Government is much more likely to respond to those who participate.”

Ballot issues like 60, 61 and 101, which would have cut taxes and mandated funding to certain areas of the state budget, were particularly important to students because they were dangerous for higher education, said Chase Eckerdt, Associated Students of CSU director of Community Affairs.

“When you’ve got races being decided by a few thousand votes, we have a big impact on that if students get out and vote,” Eckerdt said.

In 2008, young people were 19 percent of the electorate. This was largely based on the way that the Obama campaign appealed to young people, Davis said.

“(The Obama campaign) spent money and time using appeals that were specifically targeted to young people,” Davis said.

Young people are not as active in midterm elections because they generally don’t have strong ties to the local community, Davis said.
One struggle ASCSU faced was that many students are registered to vote outside of Larimer County or the state, Eckerdt said. This makes it more difficult to mobilize students to vote.

ASCSU registered about 2,500 students this election by partnering with organizations like Rock the Vote and offering online voter registration for the first time, Eckerdt said. It is estimated that between 7,000 and 10,000 CSU students were registered to vote in the 2010 midterm election.

Staff writer Keeley Blakley can be reached at

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