Less than half of U.S. under-25 crowd plans to vote
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Young people aged 18 to 24 have strong opinions on the U.S. presidential election, but less than half plan to vote, according to a survey released Monday by MTV and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
Three out of four of the 813 young adults surveyed Aug. 9-27 said they supported tougher gun control, giving patients the right to sue their health plans, funding comprehensive sex education in the schools, expanding health coverage for the uninsured and expanding hate crimes protection for gays.
But only half said they are registered to vote, and an even slimmer 46 percent said they were "absolutely" certain they would vote, according to the pollsters.
By comparison, about 80 percent of all adults say they are registered to vote and 64 percent say they are certain to vote in the November 7 election.
"It's clear that young people have strong opinions on the issues being debate in this campaign, but many of them don't see the election as a way to express those opinions or have an impact on public policy," said Vicky Rideout, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The pollsters said those young people who did not plan to vote cited three top reasons, including lack of information on the candidates; the belief that they can make more of a difference by getting involved in their community than voting; and the sense that "politics is just about money and lying and I don't want to involve myself in it." Other reasons included a sense that things were already moving in the "right direction" and the fact that their positions did not lead them to affiliate with either the Democratic or Republican parties.
David Sirulnick, executive vice-president for news and production at MTV, said most young people did not feel the candidates were effectively addressing their concerns,
MTV is hosting a forum discussion with Vice President Al Gore on Tuesday as part of its "Choose or Lose" campaign aimed at encouraging young people to get involved in the elections.
"We hope to raise awareness that young voters note only have a powerful voice in the political process as a voting block, but that their issues matter to this election," Sirulnick said.
The top five issues cited by 18- to 24-year-olds as "very important" in determining their vote for president were education, jobs and the economy, crime and violence, health care and civil rights, according to the pollsters.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.
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