May 5, 2019
Turnout For Young Voters Was Way Up In 2018, Trend Could Impact 2020

Voter turnout among 18- to 29-year-olds surged dramatically between 2014 and 2018, with potentially big implications for the 2020 presidential race, The Hill reports.

First of all, turnout among voters in general, regardless of age, was the highest it has been in decades, at an overall high of 53.4 percent. And while in 2014 only 20 percent of those in the 18-29 age group voted, that number jumped to 36 percent in 2018 according to the Census Bureau's Voting and Registration Supplement.

In a detailed analysis of their data, the Census Bureau provided a number of insights into what drove the shifts.

They pointed out that two driving factors in particular were sharp increases in turnout among both Hispanic and Asian voters. Those groups increased participation by 13 percentage points each.

Women, according to the Census Bureau, had a big impact on the numbers.

"A record number of women were elected to the House of Representatives in the November 2018 election. Additionally, women continued to vote at higher rates than men, just as they have in every midterm election since 1998," the report reads. "In the 2018 midterm election, 55 percent of women voted compared with 52 percent of men, a 3 percentage point gap."

This dynamic of gender does seem to shift with age, however.

Younger women have been voting at higher rates than younger men, but after the age of 65, men vote at higher rates compared to women.

Education also appears to have been a factor. Those with higher levels of education had higher levels of voter turnout in 2018.

Another contributor to increased voter turnout regardless of age has been the ongoing rise in alternative voting methods, many of which provide substantially increased flexibility for voters, especially those who might be unable to be present at a polling location on the day of the election.

Alternative voting methods are defined as any method other than voting in person on Election Day, including early voting and voting by mail.

In 2018, a record 40 percent of voters used an alternative voting method. And while the percentage of voters that cast their ballot early or through the mail typically declines slightly in midterm elections such as 2018, in this case there was little difference when compared to the 2016 presidential contest.

The availability of alternative voting varies from state to state. In 2018, it was possible to vote early in 39 states. Some states require voters to provide a reason for taking advance of an alternative method, while others do not. Three states now vote exclusively through the mail: Washington, Oregon, and Colorado.