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Grim Voting Trends Among Hawaii Youth Echoed Across U.S.

For the 2008 election Hawaii had the lowest youth voter turnout in the country. 

Less than a third of young people in Hawaii ages 18 through 29 voted in the election that put the state’s very own Barack Obama in the White House.

In fact, low voter turnout in general has drawn increasing attention to Hawaii, even prompting CNN to cover the issue in its "Change the List" series

But Hawaii isn’t alone in having to contend with large numbers of nonvoting youth. That trend is sweeping the nation.

A recent report from Educational Testing Services suggests that “With just over a week until the presidential election, there’s little hope of a high voter turnout among young people.”

Low levels of civic engagement, limited knowledge of civics and government and indifference toward political affairs are to blame, according to the report.

Voting rates are especially low among people with the lowest levels of education, with only 23 percent voting in the 2008 election. And only 4 percent of young, low-income high school dropouts voted in that election, says the report. 

In his “Hawaii’s Vanishing Voter” series Civil Beat contributor Ian Lind suggested a number of ways the state could encourage more residents to vote. 

Check out the ETS’ “Fault Lines in Our Democracy” project here.

— Alia Wong

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