Young voters stay away on election day.


The news that record numbers of young Americans have registered to vote in the 2004 presidential election is evidence that the Bush Kerry race has seized the interest of people who haven't been politically involved in years past.

Whatever the reason for their new interest, the fact remains that young people have had a poor track record when it comes to voting. The high point in young voter participation came in the 1972 election, one year after the voting age was lowered to 18. In that election, nearly half of young people who were eligible to vote in the presidential election did so. But in the years since, the percentage of eligible 18- to 20-year-olds casting ballots has been lower--in some cases, much lower--than those in other age groups. The reasons are unclear: Do young Americans skip voting because politicians don't speak directly to issues that interest them, or do politicians not speak directly to young people because most young people don't vote?

The data in this graph show the percentage of eligible people in five age groups who voted in five presidential elections. Use the data in the graph to answer the questions on the right.


  1. In two election years, the percentage of eligible 25 to 44-year-olds who voted was just one percentage point higher than the percentage of eligible 18 to 20-year-olds who voted in the 1972 presidential election. Which years? -- and -- 2. In 1976, a year not shown on the graph, voting among 18 to 20-year-olds fell by 20 percentage points from their 1972 turnout. What percent of those in...

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