Generation Z and voting: how digitization could boost youth participation

What are the causes of youth abstentionism? To boost Generation Z participation, solutions such as civic education, engagement, use of social media, youth representation, and use of new technologies such as online electronic voting are proposed. The goal is to create more inclusive and engaging democratic participation.

If in 1992 young people constituted the most active group of voters at the polls, showing enthusiasm and participation, today they desert the ballot box, confirming themselves as the most skeptical and disinterested group in voting participation.

The causes of youth abstentionism

Many sociologists, pollsters, and political scientists have investigated the reasons for youth abstentionism. Among the most common:

Lack of representation: many young people do not feel represented by the current political class, which often seems far removed from the needs and values of Generation Z.

Lack of information: some young people lack in-depth knowledge of the political system and institutions, which can make it difficult for them to actively participate in the political life of the country.

Dissatisfaction with parties: many young people may feel disappointed or dissatisfied with the proposals and policies of traditional political parties, and this may lead to a lack of interest in politics.

Low trust in institutions: some young people may have a critical view of institutions and politicians, and this may lead to increased distrust and disinterest in politics

Accessibility problems: sometimes, participation in political life can be hindered by logistical problems, such as the remoteness of polling places or the difficulty of attending political events due to work or study commitments.

How to incentivize the voting participation of Generation Z?

While there is no shortage of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, there are, however, several solutions that can be put in place to encourage the active participation of young people. For example:

Civic education: civic education is essential to provide young people with a thorough understanding of the political system and institutions, and can help create a greater awareness of citizens’ rights and duties.

Engagement: involving young people in policy decisions and the activities of institutions can help create a sense of ownership and responsibility for politics.

Use of social media: social media, if well used, can be an important channel as well as source of information and interaction for young people in political discussions.

Creation of specific programs: creating specific programs for young people, such as internships or scholarships for political activities, can create greater awareness of opportunities in the institutional setting.

Youth representation: youth representation within institutions and political parties can help create greater proximity between young people and politics, and can ensure greater attention to the needs and values of Generation Z.

Use of new technologies: the use of new technologies such as online electronic voting or digital participation platforms can make participation in political life easier and more accessible for young people.

Precisely because of the digitization of voting, young people would be able to vote from the comfort of home, via their computer or smartphone, without having to physically travel to a specific location. Voting could therefore be more accessible for people with disabilities or those who live far from polling stations, thus opening up democratic participation to a wider public. Of course, voting would still be securely secret and encrypted, so as to ensure the privacy and anonymity of the voter.

In conclusion, the use of voting-related technologies could eliminate technical and spatial barriers, making voting easier and more convenient, and, if integrated with the initiatives mentioned above, could definitely bring Generation Z back to the ballot box.

The phenomenon of exclusion of younger voters is a serious mistake, which is why it is crucial to find strategies, modern tools, and experiment with new ways of involvement to create a stronger link between young people and institutions, thus shaping a truly democratic, inclusive, and participatory future for all.