UT Prof: College Students Less Likely to Vote

KNOXVILLE — University of Tennessee students as well as college students across the country are the demographic group least likely to vote, a UT political science professor said Tuesday.

“Historically, data have always shown that 18- to 24-year-olds are the age group with the least voter participation,” Dr. Michael Gant said.

“Even if turnout increases there is still no reason to believe that they won’t be the lowest group,” he said.

Studies have shown, Gant said, that over the past three decades, national student interest in politics has decreased.

According to the public policy group Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, or CIRCLE, the number of college students age 18 to 25 who voted in presidential elections from 1972 to 2000 dropped from about 73 percent to about 56 percent.

Non-presidential voting rates dropped from about 40 to 30 percent.

Gant said students typically don’t have careers or family obligations so they are thinking about other things. As they get older this will change and they will become more politically involved, which follows historical trends, he said.

Although 18- to 24-year-olds are also the least likely group to be registered to vote, Gant said voter registration drives may have some impact on voting, since they get more people registered and may help to generate interest in the campaign.