Young voters requesting ballots, but they’re returning them at a slower rate

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(NEXSTAR/WHNT) — Voters under age 30 across 42 states have requested ballots at a rate comparable to registered voters in 2020, but they are not returning them at the same level as other groups, according to an analysis by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

According to the findings, voters aged 18 to 29 make up 17.2% of voters and 16.4% of ballots requested.

But that number drops considerably for ballots cast, with the younger age group making up only 7% of mail ballots and 7.8% of early in-person votes.

“While young voters and first-time voters are requesting historic levels of absentee ballots, we are not yet seeing a corresponding return of those ballots,” Seth Levi, SPLC’s chief strategy officer, said regarding the analysis, which is part of a project between BlueLabs Analytics and SPLC. “We urge every voter with an absentee ballot at home now to complete and return it to an official dropbox, if available in your county, your county election office, or via the postal service.”

In a consistent voter-turnout pattern, young voters go to the polls less than do other age groups, with the youngest group always showing the lowest turnout rate and the oldest group always showing the highest, according to PolitiFact, a fact-checking website operated by the Poynter Institute.

John Holbein, a professor at the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, told PolitiFact that he sees it as a structural problem.

“Young people fail to vote because of structural issues with how elections are run and how poorly civics education is taught in America,” said Holbein, who wrote the book “Making Young Voters: Converting Civic Attitudes into Civic Action.”

More than 26 million Americans have already voted in the 2020 election, with just over two weeks to go before Nov. 3.

Democrats have cast about 53% of early votes compared with 36% by Republicans, according to the data firm TargetSmart. However, that’s not considered a sure indicator that Democrats will lead at the election’s conclusion since a swell of votes is expected on Election Day.


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