The Agenda: Reforms Sought
by Essay Contest Participants

In our essay question, we asked participants to address "what changes in our electoral system would increase political participation by young people and why is that important to you and people like you?" We did a random sample of essays to determine what reforms most respondents - looking from the pool of all writers, not just authors of the best essays - believed were most important. The majority focused on issues relating to the inconvenience of voting rather than systemic changes. They also sought changes in the ways campaigns are conducted and civics education is pursued.

Here is a summary of their views and the approximate percentage of essays that mentioned the reoform. Many essayists mentioned more than one reform idea in their essay:

More interaction with candidates / more tailoring of message to young people (62%)

Internet voting/Internet education (57%)

More civics curriculum (56%)

More substantive, positive campaigns (53%)

More convenient polling locations/times (52%).

More third party participation / ballot access / proportional representation: (37%)

Easier registration process (election day voter registration, internet, etc): (34%)

Required debates for candidates (23%)

Corrupting influence of money (21%)
Peer pressure / parental influence (21%)
Better media coverage / more information about candidates and issues (21%)
Lower the voting age (18%)

Ending Electoral College (17%)

More diversity in government / younger representatives (15%)