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Age differences could be hurting poll numbers today

vote here sign
KBIA file photo

The Missouri Secretary of State predicts that only 40 percent of Missourians will vote.  MU Professor of Political Science Marvin Overby thinks age could be a factor in the low numbers.

“Older people tend to have more essentially at stake in a given election," Overby said. "Especially when there are matters on the ballot like taxes, raising homeowner rates. Younger people are less likely to have a financial investment in a community, less likely to be taxpayers and therefore find themselves less motivated to vote.”

But another reason could be behavior. According to Overby, voting is habit, but not one that everyone has adopted into their lifestyles.

“Older people have just had longer to sort of, inculcate that habit and for that to become part of their normal behavior, every two years,” Overby said.

However, Columbia’s election in particular just isn’t one that young people have a reason to be invested in according to Overby.

“You don’t have offices being elected this year that people know about, and you don’t have many candidates out there that people care about,” Overby said. “And also this year we don’t have any high profile, high salient measures on the ballot in terms of amending the state constitution of the like.”

Ultimately, Overby says that in general, for anyone to vote is a commitment and there are a lot of individuals who don’t see its direct benefits.

“At its heart, voting is an irrational activity," Overby said. "It’s relatively unlikely that any of us are going to go out and cast that single vote that’s going to change an election one way or the other. So when you go out to vote you generally are not doing it for strictly cost benefit, rational reasons. You’re going out to vote because you feel a certain motivation to vote.”