Bass Connections Faculty Team Leader. Making Young Voters: Policy Reforms to Increase Youth Turnout. 2018 - 2019
Primary Theme: Education & Human Development
Low levels of voter turnout among young people may not reflect a lack of civic-mindedness, but rather may be the consequence of a combination of institutional and motivational obstacles that get in the way of people participating in politics. In order to address these obstacles, researchers and policymakers from multiple fields must evaluate the effects of policy reforms that seek to reduce or eliminate the problem of low youth turnout from two complementary directions—one within the education system and one related to election administration. In the education realm, this begins with a reconsideration of the nature and content of civic education. Whereas standard civics courses focus on a test-centric curriculum that teaches facts and knowledge about government, effective civic education must develop and reinforce relevant noncognitive skills—the general abilities associated with self-regulation and social integration that are not captured by standard measures of cognitive proficiency (i.e., standardized tests). Noncognitive skills, especially the general ability to follow through on one’s goals, can predict future political participation above and beyond well-known predictors like political interest, cognitive ability, parental involvement and socioeconomic status. As a complement to uncovering what skills prompt young citizens to follow through, there must also be a reevaluation of election policies and institutional practices that create barriers or obstacles to voting. This includes evaluating institutional reforms, such as early voting, and legislation, such as preregistration.
Service Performed By
Bass Connections Faculty Team Leader
Service or Event Name
Making Young Voters: Policy Reforms to Increase Youth Turnout