Updated: Mar 8
From Tufts College:
Half of Youth Voted in 2020, An 11-Point Increase from 2016
April 29, 2021
Our analysis of youth voter turnout nationwide finds wide variation between states and underscores the importance of electoral laws and policies that help grow voters.
We estimate that 50% of young people, ages 18-29, voted in the 2020 presidential election, a remarkable 11-point increase from 2016 (39%) and likely one of the highest rates of youth electoral participation since the voting age was lowered to 18. Our new estimate is based on newly available voter file data in 41 states—AK, DC, HI, MD, MS, NH, ND, UT, WI, WY do not have reliable vote history data by age. This analysis replaces our earlier estimate, released immediately after Election Day, which estimated a 5 to 11 point increase in youth voter turnout compared to 2016 based on data available in that moment. In recent weeks, we released youth voter turnout in all available states by region: West/Southwest, South, Midwest, and East/Northeast. Those analyses offer more details on several notable states and have now been updated with the latest data. Our estimates of youth voter turnout rates in more than 80% of states are in some ways a tribute to young people’s commitment to political engagement and action in 2020, and their impressive ability to navigate a changing electoral landscape during a global pandemic. The data also allows us to zoom out, look at trends in youth voter participation, and draw some conclusions about what is and isn’t working to broaden and diversify the youth electorate. We pay special attention to laws and election administration policies that affect the ease of casting a ballot in each state—from voter registration to vote-by-mail, which can always impact youth voter turnout but may have had especially large effects in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic shifted election processes across the country.