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Reducing Barriers for Young Voters


During a panel discussion hosted by Tusk Philanthropies at this year’s SXSW Conference, Arndrea Waters King, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of the Drum Major Institute, raised an important question about efforts to make it harder for young people to vote:  

“If you think that you don’t matter, why are they trying so hard to take your voice and your vote away?” 

In our recently released report on how existing voting options leave many voters unable to vote, we outlined the various barriers young people face to successfully cast a ballot. For example, young voters are more likely to be transient at the time they come of age to begin voting and therefore need to register to vote or update their voter registration far more frequently than their older counterparts. Young voters are also less likely to have flexible schedules or transportation to get to in-person polling sites during polling hours. And research finds that confusing rules about absentee ballots coupled with postal delivery delays make voting by mail more difficult for younger voters.

All of these obstacles combine to make it harder for young people to vote. Consequently, the turnout gap for voters under 25 remains high.  In 2020, for example, when 50% of eligible voters under 25 turned out, they still had a 16-point gap in turnout from voters 25 and older.  

Mobile Voting would help remove barriers in existing voting options and close this turnout gap. Mobile voting meets young voters where they are, enabling them to vote on their schedule and with the devices they use every day. Mobile voting would also reduce the risk that their ballot is tossed due to a technical error and can even help ensure they don’t miss other election deadlines, from voter registration to absentee ballot application deadlines.

Research has found that young people are already using digital tools to engage one another on the issues that matter to them.  By empowering them to use digital options to vote, we can ensure young people are fully enfranchised and able to use their voice and their vote in every election.