new information on youth voting in 2012

For national stats on the 2012 youth turnout, CIRCLE is a good place to start. But here are two important specialized studies by colleagues:

1. The California Civic Engagement Project at UC Davis finds “dramatic disparities in voter turnout rates” in their state. In particular, they say, “California counties with the lowest eligible youth turnout are geographically clustered together, creating regional patterns of underrepresentation for youth.” The regions with the lowest turnout (the San Joaquin Valley, Los Angeles and the Northstate) also have the highest poverty and high school dropout rates in California. In a separate brief that focuses on the state’s new online voter registration system, CCEP shows that 18-24-year olds represented 30% of the online registrants; and “seventy percent of  young people who “registered online turned out to vote–25 percentage points higher” than the rate for those who did not register online. By itself, that doesn’t show that online registration increases voting (nor does CCEP claim it does), but it at least suggests that an online system is attractive to young people.

2. The Fair Elections Network’s Campus Vote Project has issued a report summarizing the state of election laws that might restrict student voting as of November 2012, along with the various efforts that they and others made to push back on these laws or to help students overcome barriers. For example, “schools in the University of Wisconsin system and private universities in the state took extraordinary measures to distribute newly required ID documents before the law was ultimately struck down in state court.” It may because of efforts like these that it’s hard to detect the effects of the new laws on aggregate youth turnout rates:


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About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.