Education

Boise high school seniors’ major reason to vote? Keep candidates they don’t like from winning

A number of Boise High School seniors voted in the Nov. 8 election.
A number of Boise High School seniors voted in the Nov. 8 election. Provided by Boise School District

Boise School District seniors say the greatest influence on their decision to vote would be to cast a ballot against a candidate they don’t like.

But having a poor list of candidates to choose from also would be a disincentive to vote, according to a survey by a Boise nonprofit organization that seeks to foster an empowering and inclusive civic life among people in the Treasure Valley.

Encouragement from parents, teachers and friends was not seen as a strong reason to go to the polls.

Boise Commons Inc. surveyed more than 1,300 Boise high school seniors in their American government classes during three weeks in October. The survey did not ask seniors what candidate they would vote for, and the survey included seniors both older and younger than 18, the voting age.

[See the full report at Boise Commons website]

“The results tell me that Boise’s young people — those on the cusp of voting age — don’t write off voting like some people might assume,” said Matthew Shapiro, a former educator and a founder of Boise Commons. “But they are very attuned to the negativity about candidates that has dominated this election season.”

Among the findings:

▪  Voting to keep a candidate out of office was the most highly rated reason for going to the polls, with 828 saying it was a major consideration.

▪  The second strongest reason to vote: Civic duty, with 538 students classifying it as a major reason.

▪  Fewer than a quarter of respondents listed encouragement from friends, teachers or parents as a major reason to vote.

▪  Not liking candidates was listed as the biggest disincentive for people who might not vote.

▪  Students tended to consider national elections more important than state or local elections, although many said all three were important.

▪ Sixty-five percent of students who were going to be 18 on Election Day said they planned to vote, 23 percent weren’t sure and 12 percent said they would not vote.

▪  Seventy-one percent said they thought their parents would vote.

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