how to encourage young people to vote?

12:28, March 18, 2022

The reasons for abstinence among young people are numerous. Some lack knowledge of the political proposal or do not recognize themselves in existing proposals. Others feel they don’t really have a say in political decisions. The need to change existing rules (blank voting, voting from the age of 16) is also one of the factors that often explains the youth abstention rate, which is likely to be higher this year than in previous presidential elections. .

Most of the solutions proposed to combat withdrawal among young people can be divided into three main categories. There are solutions that involve changing the rules of the game: recognizing voting as blank, introducing a majority judgment system (according to the methodology developed by researchers Michel Balinsky and Rida Laraki), or even lowering the age at which a person has the right to vote (down to 16).

These proposals have been at the center of the citizen participation debate for several years. As with any changes to the rules governing collective choice, their implementation should be subject to public comment, impact and political will to implement them. This is naturally a long process. Meanwhile, the decline in youth participation in elections continues and may have consequences over time: a young person who does not vote today is less likely to be an active citizen ten years from now. Voting is indeed a habit acquired or not acquired at a key moment in life and determines future choices.

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Another solution revealed by recent polls is to make voting less labor intensive. It is proposed, for example, to introduce electronic voting. Voting from home, since you can shop online, seems like a great idea at first glance. However, this reasoning ignores the reasons why we vote. A scientific article published in one of the most prestigious journals in economics showed that one of the main reasons people vote is to show others that they are good citizens. This is what we call the desire to play on the image that we send back to others.

This type of image motivation influences behaviors such as blood donation or the willingness to make an effort that benefits charity. In the context of voting, the Swiss economist Patricia Funk (2010) has shown that the introduction of e-voting in some Swiss municipalities has led to a decrease rather than an increase in participation.

Experiment with new solutions

There is a third way to encourage young people to vote, which is through low-cost solutions based on the contributions of the behavioral sciences. These decisions are often referred to as nudges (or “nudges”, a concept theorized by researchers Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler). One of the main contributions of the behavioral sciences is that they have shown that in terms of socially responsible behavior, most people have good intentions, but they find it difficult to translate them into actions.

In the context of voting, polls show, for example, that the majority of young people plan to vote in the 2022 presidential election. The risk is to see a large gap between declared intent and revealed voting behavior on Election Day. One tool that has proven effective in moving people from intention to action is sending them reminders a few days before Election Day, as well as on Election Day.

In an experiment in Norway, these types of reminders had a significant effect on voting among those under 30, with a five percentage point increase compared to a control group that received no reminders. Reminders work primarily because they allow those who receive them to reassess their priorities.

Inexpensive Solutions

Over the past thirty years, behaviorists have come up with many solutions that are inexpensive to implement and have demonstrated their ability to encourage people to behave more socially responsibly. These solutions are still little used in the sphere of citizens’ participation in elections. That is why we have assembled a team of over 30 behavioral and experimental economics researchers in France with the aim of using the lessons of the behavioral sciences to create solutions to combat youth abstinence and testing the impact of these solutions through large-scale scientific experiments on almost 10,000 young people.

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Some of the stored behavioral decisions are based on a well-known scientific result that shows that our decisions are influenced by what others do, while other decisions use recent work showing that the simple fact of having to give a speech about the importance of behavior (e.g. , the importance of voting) may encourage the speaker (for example, a young person) to improve their work on the subject (in our example, this may be a self-persuasion effect).

Some of these solutions were developed and formalized with the participation of young people and a group of designers who came together with researchers during a workshop on collective intelligence. Stored solutions, as well as the results of large-scale experiments, may only be disclosed at the end of a research project to prevent the results from being distorted by any communication about the project prior to its implementation. In the meantime, you can follow the progress of the project on our website

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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