(September 5, 2023) — Today, the National Vote at Home Institute (NVAHI) issued a research paper examining 18-34-year-old voter turnout in the 2020 Presidential election, both overall and by key race/ethnicities. The study calculated and analyzed turnout rates using two critical denominators — eligible citizens and active registered voters — for 42 states for which sufficient age-related data was available.
Young voters aged 18-34 — overall and by key race and ethnicities — had significantly higher turnout rates in the cohort of 10 Vote at Home states and Washington, D.C., that automatically mailed ballots to all active registered voters in 2020. Using Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) and Active Registered Voter (ARV) datasets from a Voter Participation Center study and a significant list vendor (Catalist), the research team first examined overall 18-34 turnout rates. Six of the top 10 states for eligible citizen turnout in 2020 – and eight of the top 15 for active registered voter turnout –were Vote at Home jurisdictions. Only one Vote at Home state (Nevada) was a 2020 battleground state; most others failed to make either list.
To further analyze turnout rates of 18-34 year old white, Black, and Latino voters, the nine Vote at Home jurisdictions with available data were compared with four other cohorts. These were the seven 2020 battleground states that didn’t use this approach; ten non-Vote at Home states with Same Day/Election Day (SDR/EDR) registration policies; ten non-Vote at Home states with Automatic Voter Registration (AVR); and the remaining 16 states with none of these policies. Of the 32 possible turnout rate comparisons, using both the CVAP and ARV denominators, Vote at Home states triumphed, in all 32 instances, often by dramatic margins.
“Despite billions spent by the major political parties on media ads, voter registration drives, and other Get out the Vote efforts targeting young voters, it was non-battleground, Vote at Home states that dominated the list of Top Turnout states for young voters in 2020,” said Barbara Smith Warner, NVAHI Executive Director.
New Jersey, a non-battleground state, boasted the nation’s highest 18-34-year-old turnout rate of eligible citizens (CVAP) at 64%, compared to a 50% national average. Montana, which like New Jersey used this system for the first time in 2020, topped the list for 18-34 active registered voter turnout, at 86%.
“While SDR/EDR and AVR policies also seem to boost young voter turnout, their impact appears to be a fraction of the turnout increase that happens when states automatically deliver ballots to all voters, especially young voters,” said Phil Keisling, chief author of the study. Keisling chairs NVAHI’s Board and served as Oregon Secretary of State from 1991-99.
Read the full report here.
About National Vote At Home Institute
The National Vote at Home Institute is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that aims to increase voters’ access to, use of, and confidence in voting at home, in which voters receive mailed-out paper ballots; return them either by postage-free mail or in-person to a wide range of accessible, convenient, and secure locations; and can track them online, in real-time, to ensure their vote is counted.