NJ psychology professor: Young vote is vital, way to renew democracy

By KYW Newsradio 1060

MOORESTOWN, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — When young voters cast their ballots, they're not only helping to shape the country, they're also shaping their own political habits at an early age, according to Rutgers University psychology professor and senior vice chancellor Daniel Hart.

Hart co-authored a book with James Youniss called "Renewing Democracy in Young America," which begins, Harts believes, with younger voter participation.

He said it's important to create a voting habit in young people.

"We know young people who vote when they are first eligible — that almost always means at age 18 — are more likely to become lifelong voters. So anything we can do to get younger people to the polls is building a good foundation for the future of democratic participation,” he explained.

Another benefit he said was voting gives the younger generation a purpose and builds self-esteem by creating a sense of being a community member.

Hart's book proposes that 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds be able to vote in municipal elections.

"There's actually not much difference in how much 16-year-olds know about their societies than what 20-year-olds know. We think that they have the cognitive capacity and the emotional maturity to cast a ballot,” he said.