Young People Are Registering to Vote in Huge Numbers, New Study Finds

In some battleground states, 18-to-29-year-olds now make up a far greater percentage of new registrants.

Student protesters at the March for Our Lives in Detroit, Michigan on March 24, 2018.Chirag Wakaskar/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire

The March for Our Lives teens said they’d #VoteThemOut, and a new study suggests they could be poised to do just that. According to the political data firm TargetSmart, the percentage of newly registered voters who are under the age of 30 has grown significantly in a number of key battleground states since the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The surge could have big implications in this fall’s fight for control of Congress.

The study evaluated all new voter registrations in the 39 states with available data since February 14, 2018—the day of the Parkland shooting—and calculated the change in the share of new registrants who are 18 to 29 years old. Across the country, the share of youth registrants increased by a modest 2.16 percentage points. But in Indiana, Virginia, and New York—home to some of this year’s marquee House and Senate contests—the share of youth registrants increased by 9.87, 10.49, and 10.7 percentage points, respectively. In Pennsylvania—where voters will decide as many as nine competitive congressional races—the share of new registrants who are younger than 30 jumped by a whopping 16.14 percentage points. The study doesn’t evaluate how many of the new registrants may have been motivated by the #NeverAgain movement.

The findings offer an early, measurable indication that youth turnout could be higher than in previous midterm elections, though there’s no guarantee that many of the new registrants will actually vote. Just under half of all 18-to-29-year-olds were registered to vote in 2014, but less than 20 percent of that population group ended up casting ballots that year. It was the lowest rate of of youth registration and turnout recorded in four decades, according to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.