Elections and the Youth Vote

Child & Youth Activism
People holding a "Today We March, Tomorrow We Vote" banner during March for Our Lives rally in DC

Vince Reinhart | CC BY-SA 4.0

Grade Level:
High School
Common Core Standards:
Reading, Speaking and Listening, Language
Child & Youth Activism

Brief History of the Youth Vote

During every election cycle, the “youth vote” captures the attention of pollsters, political reporters, those running for office, and young adults themselves. In 1971, with the ratification of the 26th Amendment, the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18. The following year, in 1972, 52% of young people between the ages of 18 and 21 voted in the Presidential election, representing the highest percentage ever for that age group. After that year, the youth vote dropped significantly until it reached a low point in the 1990s. Following that decline, there has been a steady increase among young adults who vote.  

About this Lesson Plan

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn more about the role and importance of the youth vote, consider barriers to the youth vote, and propose ideas for taking action to increase the youth vote.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will understand more about the historical context of “the youth vote.”  
  • Students will reflect on a series of interviews with teenagers about elections and voting and then consider their own thoughts and ideas.
  • Students will identify obstacles to youth voting and then work with others to address at least one of those barriers.

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