More than 3 million voters aged between 18 and 29, including more than 2 million in 14 key states, have already cast their ballots for the 2020 presidential election, the latest Tufts University study reports.
According to the Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement, which monitors and analyzes the voting patterns of younger voters, over 2 million young people have voted via mail or early voting cast by Oct. 21. In other words, ten times more younger voters have voted than at this point in the last presidential election.
“In every state we’re tracking, the number of absentee and early votes cast as of October 21, 2020, is far higher than at the same date in 2016,” the researchers said on their website. “That’s to be expected, given the greater emphasis on mail-in voting this year due to the pandemic.”
That being said, the researchers described the numbers as “especially dramatic” in states such as Texas, where at least 490,000 young people have already cast ballots. In other contested states like Florida, North Carolina, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, early votes cast by youth have already exceeded the 2016 winning margin in each state.
The increase in young people’s participation is particularly remarkable in several states. In North Carolina, 204,986 younger voters have voted, compared to 25,150 in 2016, in part thanks to the state’s first-ever automatic voter registration for DMV customers and a special opportunity for DMV customers to register online. In Florida, which shifted from blue to red in the last two presidential elections, 257,720 have voted, compared to 44,107 four years ago.
The researchers also noted that younger voters could also make a large impact on the Senate race in states like Colorado, which has one of the largest proportions of youth in its citizen population, as well as one of the highest average youth turnouts in the past two elections. Its incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who unseated his Democratic opponent by a narrow margin in 2014, is only one of two Republican senators up for re-election in states won by Hilary Clinton in 2016. Winning the younger voters could be crucial for Gardner, considering Colorado has seen only small differences in vote choice between youth and the general electorate for the last presidential race.
It’s also possible for youth to make a substantial impact in North Carolina’s Senate race, the researchers said. Similar to Colorado, North Carolina has an above-average percentage of youth in its citizen population and an average youth turnout in the past two elections. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), the current incumbent, won against Democratic Kay Hagan by a razor-thin margin of 48.8 percent to 47.3 percent, the lowest winning total in the state’s history for a U.S. Senate candidate.