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Abstract

The American democratic system is fundamentally based on the idea of a government of the people. At the cornerstone of this system is voting. However, to date, voter turnout among the youth vote (citizens aged 18-29) is very low. This paper explores the historical data of youth voter turnout and subsequently addresses two core questions. First, why is youth voter turnout important? Second, what can we do to increase youth voter turnout in the 21st century? This paper argues that youth voter turnout is important for a number of reasons, from education levels to habitual voting. Primary among these is the argument that increases in youth voter turnout can help to moderate U.S. Congressional polarization. In answering the second question, this paper turns to behavioral economics. After exploring bounded rationality, bounded willpower, and bounded self-interest, this essay proposes making voter registration, as well as voting itself, available online and applying nudges to boost online voter turnout. These proposed nudges include framing voting as a matter of identity, using social media to prompt individuals to vote, and turning voting into a type of social norm, among others.

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