Donald Trump’s administration polarized young Americans after years of regressive politics, inadvertently pushing millions of them to vote in record numbers.
Democrats hope that trend continues going into the midterms.
In the 2020 Presidential election, around half of all young people (18-29) cast their ballot, an 11-point increase from 2016, according to a Tufts University analysis, which also noted that it was likely the largest youth turnout in an election since the voting age was lowered to 18 in 1971.
Just over 60% of those young people voted for the Democrats.
It was also the most diverse and educated electorate ever to participate.
Democrats are betting those people will be back now and in 2024, while Republicans are expected to again rely on turnout of people aged over 45. With the midterms just 48 days away, the Democrats have reinforcements. Since Joe Biden won the last election, 8.3 million people have turned 18. That sizeable voter pool could have a decisive impact on the upcoming midterms, where some races are reported to be neck and neck.
Democrats have tried to engage with young voters by pushing through bills and other executive actions important to them. The Inflation Reduction Act included $400 billion to fight climate change, the most extensive spending package on climate in U.S. history. The bill also sets aside $200 billion to negotiate better drug prices and caps the cost of others. More recently, the student loan forgiveness initiative hopes to entice young adults to the polls by cutting up to $20,000 of student loan debt. That comes alongside rhetoric and actions from Democrats that have championed low-income, underserved people and their communities – especially regarding voting.
But if you want to vote, you have to register first.
Registering to vote
Depending on your state, registration deadlines could be up to a month before the election. The federal government has a handy website where you can check your eligibility and start registering. It only takes a few minutes.
Federal law requires that people prove who they are when they register. You must provide your driver’s license number or state ID number if you have one.
If you do not have either, you must provide the last four digits of your Social Security number. If you don’t have a Social Security number, leave the space blank on the form, according to Vote Riders, a non-partisan, non-profit organization with a mission to ensure that all citizens are able to exercise their freedom to vote.
Each state dictates what’s needed when you turn up to vote, with most requiring some kind of photo identification. Some states have strict photo ID laws, while others are either looser or have no specific law.
The government allows students to submit absentee ballots if they’re registered in their home state and are attending school out of state. That means you don’t have to travel home to vote.
However, if you maintain a permanent or temporary residence in the state where you attend college, you can change your voter registration to that state so you can vote in person. You can update your voter registration via mail, online, at a government facility, or, in some states, over the phone.
But don’t register in two states; that’s illegal.
Where is my polling place?
You’ll be assigned a polling place based on your zip code. Find that here. If you live far from the polling place or don’t have reliable transport, you can mail in your vote. In most states, you can find voting advocacy groups that will hire buses and taxis or organize ridesharing cars to help people vote. Many of those groups are churches or grassroots advocacy groups.
The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice offers Uber codes for voters without transportation. Find out more here.
Sometimes people have unique circumstances that make it harder to vote. If you fall under one of these categories or know someone that does, click the link for more information.