A call to young voters

Midterm elections lack appeal for youth vote but not relevance.

Editorial board

Conventional wisdom and the numbers tell us that college students donâÄôt vote âÄî and certainly not in less-than-glamorous off-year local elections. Our culture seems to expect a selfish, sophomoric ennui from young voters, who can only be expected to get off the couch and engage civically if theyâÄôre choosing the Leader of the Free World.

This is why we consider it a mark of pride that the Twin Cities boasted the highest youth voter turnout among U.S. cities in the 2006 midterm elections.

But to take a step back, we won that honor with a turnout of 47 percent of eligible voters aged 29 and under, as compared to a national average of 25.5 percent for the same demographic; sadly, the bar is not set high. These numbers also tend consistently to lag about 20 points behind youth voting in presidential elections and 20-30 points behind voters aged 30 plus.

These two intersecting trends speak both to a generally disengaged youth and an emphasis on national over local politics. We brand elections “midterm” or “off-year” as if they are throwaways, mere distractions that fill the space between presidential races.

But local politics matter. They have at least as much âÄî and maybe more âÄî impact on our daily lives, our communities, finances and infrastructure as national politics do. And though it may not always feel that way, college students are important actors and stakeholders in their communities. At least for now, the Twin Cities are your home âÄî and your opinion counts.

Students of the University of Minnesota: The odds are long that youâÄôll vote, but we hope and expect that you will this November. Whether youâÄôre pre-registered or not, to grab a friend and get yourselves to the polls.