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Do Australian Secondary School Students Think Young People are Ready to Vote?

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Although considerable attention has been given to voting among youth, their preparation for, and their confidence about voting has been less explored. This article develops a social psychological perspective of voting among youth, in that it investigates their attitudes toward youth readiness to vote. Using survey data from over 1300 secondary school students from the ACT and South Australia, a multivariate analysis found that males and Year 10 students (more than Year 12 students) were more likely to regard youth as being prepared to vote. Having been taught about the Australian government increased the optimism of these youth about preparedness, but political knowledge lessened it. Students who felt empowered and who were ambitious were more likely to think that young people were prepared to vote, as did those students who participated in typical youth activities, such as watching TV or listening to rock music. In the context of these findings, the discussion focuses on the role of the school in preparing youth for their first-time vote.
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Keywords: Australia; secondary schools; social psychology; voting; youth

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Australian National University

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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