Voting Sucks: Young Adults and the Act of Voting

Prof Rich Hanley
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Some 80 percent of registered voters between the ages of 18-29 told the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement that they would vote in the 2004 presidential election. In fact, only 51 percent did. That disconnect amounts to an inverted digital divide. A cohort that knows only digital technology may be hesitant to participate in a process that uses the implements and concepts of the past instead of presence.

The Internet and its technological tributaries — wireless connectivity, instant messaging, etc … — delete time and distance. Yet the American electoral process circa 2004 re-sets that structure to its original pre-twentieth (or even pre-nineteenth) century configuration. Instead of the Boss, Bruce Springsteen, we have Boss Tweed. Instead of Windows or Apple Mac OS X, we have levers, tools and mechanical apparatus from a distant time. Even the digital solutions — optical scanners and modified ATM machines — defeat the present.

The insertion of ancient technology to serve as the interface to our most important public task is unsettling. The voting machine or ballot box moves Americans — young adults and others whose workplace is saturated with digital materials — to terrain that is alien to them. On Election Day, they are handed a buggy whip instead of a computer mouse. In order to engage younger voters in the process, voting needs to move away from the concept of static to dynamic in terms of location and technology.

Keywords: Youth, Young Adults, Political Participation, Digital, E-Voting, Voting, Voting Technology, Government, Politics, Disconnect, Presidential, President, Campaign, Political Discourse, Ballot Box
Stream: Technology in Community
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Prof Rich Hanley

Director of Graduate Programs in Journalism and Interactive Communications, Department of Journalism and Media Production, Quinnipiac University

Rich Hanley is the graduate program director of Journalism and Interactive Communications and an assistant professor of journalism at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn. A journalist, and a producer, writer and director of documentaries and Web sites, Hanley has worked for more than 25 years in the media profession, including a stint at Time magazine where he served as a senior producer for Among his many achievements in the interactive space is the creation of Brain Jam, an online magazine posted by Grolier-Scholastic that redefined the presentation of encyclopedia articles to match the expectations of a readership that thinks first of the Internet for school research. He has been nominated for six Emmy awards for writing and producing documentaries. His views on journalism, the Internet and pop culture are frequently sought by global and national media, including MSNBC, Fox News and A&E Television. Hanley teaches primarily in the Interactive Communications graduate program.

Ref: T05P0008