Engaging our Youth

The state with the nation's youngest population should also be leading the way in youth voting, but unfortunately Utah's overall voting rates—including among Utahns between the ages of 18 and 29—are desperately lagging. In an effort to boost youth voting in the state of Utah, the Hinckley Institute of Politics is reaching out to local high school students to engage them civically and empower the next generation of voters to be regular participants in the political process. This project is in partnership with the Harvard Institute of Politics' National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement.

For the last three years, the Hinckley Institute has presented to high school auditoriums across Northern Utah, and to Boys Sate, reaching an estimated 1,150 high school juniors and seniors. This program encompasses an interactive mock election/game show with real-time polling. By using interactive clickers, students are able to cast their votes on current political issues. In addition, we use the time to break down the Utah caucus-convention system, and show students the reality of Utah's low voter statistics, in the hope that they realize the importance of the youth vote. Our ultimate goal is to inform high school students and encourage them to become involved, while at the same time keeping them engaged and entertained.

Not only does the Hinckley work to increase the youth vote in Utah, we help our students connect on this issue with their peers across the country. In spring 2012, two Hinckley students and one staff member were invited to participate in the Harvard National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement. Students Kendahl Melvin and Nelson Warr, along with Communications and Academic Coordinator Ellesse Balli, ventured to Harvard for the annual conference, and worked to collaborate with other like-minded students to create new ideas and methods for engaging students in politics.