why young people don’t vote

This graph (using Census survey data from 2010) presents an interesting contrast:

Reasons Given for Not Voting, 2010

College students are much more likely to cite being out of town or away from home as the reason they didn’t vote. That make sense: they tend to live away. Their peers who are not in college are somewhat more likely to cite a lack of interest or faith in the impact of their vote. They are also more likely to give miscellaneous “other” reasons.

We are aware of the limitations of survey data about reasons for non-voting. Individuals may not know or disclose their own true reasons. And some of the answers are ambiguous. For example, if you say that you were “too busy,” does that mean that you absolutely could not get to the polls or that voting was a relatively low priority for you? (Would motivating you make any difference, or not?)

Still, this graph suggests that the obstacles to voting are quite different for current college students and for their more numerous contemporaries who are not in college.