Sort by
In the media

If Anyone Ever Tells You Your Vote Doesn't Matter, Show them This

Sean McElwee

As the 2016 campaign heats up, one story that's being largely ignored is how voter turnout will affect policy. Although many people, particularly young Americans, believe that their vote doesn't matter, new research suggests nothing could be further from the truth.

In a new report titled "Why Voting Matters" for Demos, where I'm a research associate, I examine how gaps in turnout influence policy decisions, and argue that boosting turnout would lead to dramatically different policy prescriptions on a host of issues.

According to U.S. Census data, overall turnout in the 2014 midterm elections was 41.9%, but there are dramatic differences when the numbers are broken down by class, race and income level. Just 1 in 10 Asian and Hispanic Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 voted in the 2014 midterm elections, meaning white Americans over the age of 65 were six times as likely to cast a ballot.

These differences in turnout have real consequences for how well-represented young, poor or minority Americans are in government, and taking steps to increase turnout among these groups could have tangible effects on policy.