Young people (18-29) consistently have the lowest voter turnout of any age group (See Figure 1). Shockingly, in the recent midterms, only 23% of 18-29 year olds registered and voted in the 2022 midterm elections according to CIRCLE, the preeminent research center on youth civic engagement at Tufts University. Registration and turnout of the youngest age group (18-19) is even lower.
While this number is shockingly low, there is some good news. First, there has been some progress in recent years, especially reflecting increased efforts on college campuses. Furthermore, despite the low registration rates, when young voters do register, they are likely to turn out! According to The Civics Center, 86% of young voters who are registered turn out and vote.
Yourvoicematters.vote, presents the most recent available youth voter registration and turnout data for each state. In addition, there is a youth voter profile for each state that highlights some of the policies, resources, and practices that are associated with reaching, registering, and turning out young voters in that state.
Yourvoicematters.vote is a program of the nonpartisan National Women’s Foundation and its nonpartisan partners. We highlight creative, committed and successful efforts across the country to encourage greater civic participation by young people. We hope that yourvoicematters.vote will help spark greater attention and action to promote what works to increase youth civic participation–especially registration of the 4,000,000 young people who become eligible to vote each year.
Why is this so important? The benefits of increasing the youth vote are clear. According to Tufts CIRCLE, the preeminent think tank devoted to the measurement and understanding of youth’s civic engagement:
“Voting is a fundamental act of civic participation through which young people contribute to democracy. While it’s just one of many ways that youth engagement can take, it is a powerful way for young people to make their voices heard and to have an impact on issues that affect them and their communities; it can also serve as an entry point to other forms of participation.”
Others note that, when individuals are civically engaged from their youth, they are more likely to vote and participate in other civic activities throughout their lives. Certainly, young people have the most to gain or lose from many issues in front of voters.
With more than four million young people turning 18 every year, young voters are also critically important because they represent the largest group of potential new voters and could play a decisive role in a number of elections.
Finally, focusing on the youth vote is practical because there are concrete things that individuals and groups can do:
Support civic education, voter registration, and turnout of young people–especially initiatives led by young people;
Support organizations engaged in youth and the vote as facilitators, volunteers, and donors;
Support the creation and implementation of action plans by colleges and universities and high schools;
Support High School Voter Registration Week, registration drives, etc;
Encourage the effective (and safe) use of social media; and
Recognize, celebrate, share, and support successful efforts.