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Low voter turnout among the young is symptom of greater problem, says UNI professor<br>

October 24, 2002

Tom Rice, head of the Department of Political Science, (319) 273-2039
Gwenne Culpepper, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-2761

As a rule, people18-24 are less likely to vote than are other voting populations. 'At that age, people have a lot going on in their lives,' explains Tom Rice, head of the UNI Department of Political Science. 'They're starting families or relationships, moving, starting careers, they're in and out of school.' As a result, they focus less on what's going on politically, and more on what's going on personally.

Recently, those numbers have dropped to all-time lows. 'But what's more troubling is that young people seem to be less engaged in the community in general,' says Rice. 'The fact that they don't vote is really just a symptom of the erosion of social capital.'

He says it's pointless to generically encourage voting. 'We don't want people voting because they've been brow beaten into it. We want them to want to vote. But that starts by becoming engaged in your community, and that's what we aren't encouraging.'