New Article: Voter Turnout of Youth Aged 18-19 Shows States Having Varied Success at Growing Voters

Posted by CIRCLE on October 22, 2019

The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University has published the article, Voter Turnout of Youth Aged 18-19 Shows States Having Varied Success at Growing Voters. In August, they wrote about the need for a paradigm shift (CIRCLE) from solely mobilizing voters at election time to a framework for building election education and engagement we call Growing Voters. That shift is critical because youth voter turnout among 18- and 19-year-olds is regularly below that of their slightly older peers, and therefore below the average for all youth—defined here as ages 18-29. That means we’re missing an opportunity to instill civic habits early in life and to tackle disparities in access before they become harder to address, and youth are missing out on what should be an exciting milestone when they turn 18.

Of course, turnout (for all ages) varies across the country, and we believe that a state’s 18-19 turnout rate is an indicator of whether or not it is succeeding at Growing Voters as a strategy for expanding and diversifying youth electoral engagement. In other words, when a state is successful at Growing Voters, its age 18-19 youth should vote at average-or-better rates, and there should be a smaller gap between their turnout rates and that of all youth. This analysis explores that question by examining statewide turnout among 18- and 19- year-olds in the 2018 midterms. We consider what could explain the disparities, look at notable outliers, and highlight the need for more research and knowledge-sharing about what works to grow voters in a range of communities.

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