Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Young, college-aged voter engagement higher than ever

October 31, 2020
Photo by Di'Amond Moore | The State News

Young voter engagement is higher than ever before, and young voters in battleground states are more inclined to vote for Joe Biden, according to a new study by NextGen America, an organization dedicated to getting young people to vote. 

Potential voters aged 18-34 from 13 battleground states — including Michigan — were polled for the study.

According to the results, Biden holds a 63% to 31% advantage over Donald Trump among those who have already voted or who will “definitely” vote. 

“Young people’s enthusiasm to vote in this election will provide the margin of victory for Joe Biden and Democrats up and down the ticket,” NextGen America Executive Director Ben Wessel said in a statement. “It's simple math — the largest, most progressive generation of Americans is showing up in the states that matter most.” 

Among all registered voters, Biden holds a 58% to 31% lead over Trump, which is six points better than Hillary Clinton’s 21-point lead over Trump in November 2016, per the results. 

Additionally, the poll revealed 80% of registered voters said they will either “definitely” vote in the election or have already voted, which marks a 10-point jump from July, when only 70% reported they would “definitely” cast a ballot.

“When Coronavirus hit Michigan back in March, we didn’t know what organizing would look like for the rest of 2020,” NextGen Michigan State Director Jay Williamson said in a press release. “But our numbers prove the resilience and tenacity of the youth vote. They’re angry and if 2020 has proven anything, it’s that anger has a face, and decency has a voice, and they’re both represented by young voters. Our youngest voters are also by far our most empathetic and socially aware and it’s exciting to see that early returns are indicating this election will be decided by them. It’s their time.”

The surge in voting numbers and engagement among young voters is especially prevalent in Michigan, according to NextGen Michigan Press Secretary Lateshia Parker. 

Ballots from Michigan voters under 35 are currently seeing a 61.85% return rate, as of Oct. 30. 351,531 AV ballots have been returned thus far, which is higher than the 136,470 total returns in the 2016 election.

Additionally, Parker reported the highest increase in voters between the ages of 18-24, which she said is attributed to first-time voters.

In 2016, college-aged voters accounted for 26,188 absent voter ballots in the state. The 2020 return rate is already over five times that, with 138,636 ballots belonging to people aged 18-24. 

In 2016, 1,730 of Lansing’s young voters returned their absent voter ballots before the election. Four days from the 2020 election, and 5,770 of 8,578 requested ballots have already been returned.

5,577 of Lansing’s returned absent voter ballots have been returned by college-aged students.

Parker said the high voter engagement numbers show that NextGen Michigan’s voter education initiatives have been working.

“These numbers are amazing,” Parker said. “They’re demystifying the myth of, ‘young people aren’t going to vote by mail, they’re not excited about voting by mail.’ These numbers are clear in showing that young people are excited about voting, that the passing of Proposal 3 has engaged them and lit a fire under them.”

Proposal 3, which was passed in 2018, allows for no-reason absentee voting, accounting for the surge in AV ballots cast in this election. 

With the election a mere few days away, Parker said the organization’s volunteer staff is projected to make over 182,000 calls and send over 305,000 text messages in the five days prior to it to further engage the youth vote.

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