Barriers and Motivators to Voting Among Millennials

Courtesy of the Knight Foundation

Courtesy of the Knight Foundation

When it comes to voting in local elections, the problem is fairly obvious, but the solutions are all the more difficult to pinpoint. The statistics are stark: voter turnout in off-year local elections is drastically lower than turnout in even-year elections. Among Millennials (young adults under the age of 35) in urban areas, this turnout gap is even more pronounced. To better understand this drop-off among Millennial voters, my team at Lake Research Partners and I worked with the Knight Foundation in 2015 to conduct focus groups with millennial drop-of voters, people ages 20 to 34 who voted in the past national election but not in their most recent local election. 

The objects of the research were to: 

  • Understand statistical trends in local voting and factors which afect turnout
  • Explore millennial motivations and barriers for voting in local elections
  • Consider ways to promote stronger millennial participation in local elections

The groups explored Millennials’ sense of ownership and loyalty to their communities, the extent to which they’re actively engaged already, and if they consider voting an important part of that engagement. In addition, we explored attitudes toward local government and local voting, and how to frame voting to motivate greater millennial participation in local elections. 

Visit the Knight Foundation website to view their interactive feature on the research and to read the full report

Some press coverage of the research: