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Youth voting
Registration and Voting Among Young Americans

A 2009 Project Vote report on voter participation in the 2008 elections shows how drastically civic engagement amongst young people, and especially among young people of color, lags behind other groups:

  • Though 21% of the eligible voter population, voters 18-29 made up only 17% of the actual voting population in 2008.
  • Approximately 21 million citizens under the age of 30 did not vote in 2008.
  • If younger citizens had voted at the same rate as those aged 30 and over, 7 million more people would have cast ballots in the election.
  • As of November 2008, fewer than half (49%) of the 3.7 million 18-year-old citizens were registered to vote, a rate 22 points lower than the general population.
  • In 2008, non-white or Latino 18-year-old citizens were registered to vote at a rate six percentage points behind their white counterparts, 51 percent of whom are registered.

While most youth voter registration programs target college students, there is a tremendous gap in voting and turnout rates between young people with college experience and those without.

  • Fully half of the 32 million Americans aged 18-24 have no college experience.
  • 52% of 18-24 year-old African-Americans, and 68% of 18-24 year-old Latinos, have no college experience.
  • 70% of the total student population of colleges in 2007 was White
  • Over the past twenty years voting by young people with no college experience lagged approximately 30 percentage points behind those with college experience.


The resources on this page summarize the current state of youth voting in America, and provide background, recommendations, and tools to inform and advance efforts to increase engagement among the nation's underrepresented young people.

 



Youth Voting Resources

Research

Table: Preregistration Policies in the States. December 2011.

Report: Engaging America’s Youth through High School Voter Registration Programs. Jody Herman and Lauren Forbes. December 2010.

Policy Paper: Enfranchising American Youth. September 2010.

Research Memo: Best Practices for High School Registration Programs. September 2010.

Legislative Brief: Expanding the Youth Electorate through Preregistration. March 2010.

Research Memo: Registration and Voting Among Americans Ages 18-29. Project Vote. June 2008.

Model Bills

Preregistration. February 2011.

High School Voter Registration. February 2011.

Model Testimony

High School Voter Registration. February 2011.

Preregistration. February 2011.

Fact Sheets

Engaging the Youth Electorate through High School Voter Registration. July 2010.

Expanding the Youth Electorate through Preregistration. January 2010.

Expanding the Youth Electorate in Arizona through Preregistration. January 2010.

Other

Project Vote Blog: Youth Voting.

 
 

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