In recent decades, both voter knowledge and voter participation in the U.S. has seen a decline. This has major implications for our democracy as the voting demographic is neither as well-informed nor as diverse as it could be.
Only 32% of voters can name the top three news stories of the month, and that number is unfortunately even lower among minority groups. While this may seem trivial, education and engagement among voters are closely tied. Studies have shown that only 3.5% of the least educated citizens vote compared to 80.5% of the most educated. This correlation has traditionally led many politicians to cater to the most informed demographic, which in the U.S. is wealthy, educated white men over the age of 47.
Rates of both voter knowledge and participation have thankfully increased in the last two years, but there is more work to be done. After all, the importance of voter knowledge and engagement is an issue that our political leaders have understood for generations.
“There is an old saying that the course of civilization is a race between catastrophe and education,” argued former President John F. Kennedy. “In a democracy such as ours, we must make sure that education wins the race.”