Half of Americans ages 18 to 29 cast a ballot in the 2020 general election, an 11-percentage-point increase from 2016, when 39 percent did, according to a new analysis of youth voter turnout from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.
Researchers at the Massachusetts institution found higher youth turnout rates in states with more policies in place that make voting and registration easier, including automatic registration, same-day registration, early voting and no-excuse absentee voting policies. Youth voter turnout was highest (57 percent) in states that mailed ballots to all registered voters and lowest in states with the most restrictive vote-by-mail policies (42 percent).
Turnout was lower among 18- to 19-year-olds (46 percent), than among individuals in their 20s, a pattern in line with historical trends. In South Dakota, 32 percent of people under 30 voted, but just 12 percent of 18- and 19-year-olds did.
New Jersey had the highest youth voter turnout rate (67 percent ), followed by Minnesota (65 percent) and Colorado (63 percent). The lowest rates were seen in South Dakota (32 percent), Oklahoma (34 percent) and Arkansas (35 percent). The researchers did not observe declines in youth turnout for any of the states for which they have data.
Alaska, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming were excluded from the analysis due to what researchers described as a lack of reliable voting data by age.