Young People + Voting: A Guide to Participating in the Midterm Elections
October 21, 2022
With the midterm elections approaching, young people are poised to make a big impact at the polls if they turn out. According to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), as of September this year, young people ages 18-24 are outpacing their registration numbers versus those in the historic November 2018 election. But, the report continues, potential voters age 18-19 are still lagging in registration.
As election season picks up, here are the top resources for working with young people, especially new voters, to make sure they have all the information they need to vote.
Many states allow pre-voter registration for young people approaching the age of 18. Find out more information on the requirements in each state.
- This tool from Headcount can help young people determine the age requirements for registration in their state.
- Many states permit preregistration beginning at 16 years old. By preregistering, voters will be ready to cast a ballot when they turn 18 without any additional steps. Some states will even allow young people to vote in primary elections when they’re 17 if they turn 18 before the general election. The National Conference of State Legislature has more information about preregistration for young voters here.
- Have other questions about voter eligibility in your state? Check out this tool by Rock The Vote.
Each state has their own deadline for registering to vote ahead of the election. Some states allow same-day registration, while others require registration as far as a month in advance.
Here are the upcoming registration deadlines for the November 8 general election*.
- October 21, 2022: Nebraska
- October 24, 2022: Alabama, California, Iowa, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota
- October 28, 2022: Utah
- October 29, 2022: New Hampshire
- October 21, 2022: Colorado, Washington
- November 1, 2022: Connecticut
- November 8, 2022: Vermont, Wyoming, North Dakota (does not have voter registration)
*all other state deadlines have passed as of publication.
For more information about voter registration deadlines, including links to register, visit Vote.org.
- If you’re working with college students, encourage them to check their registration as well as their access to an absentee or vote by mail ballots, including deadlines to request. The Campus Vote Project has state-by-state guides for college students.
There are many non-partisan and non-profit organizations dedicated to providing ballot information. These resources can help young people learn more about the ballot measures, candidates, and other issues on the ballot.
- Ballotpedia is the digital encyclopedia of American politics and a resource for unbiased information on elections, politics, and policy. This tool lets you lookup a sample ballot based on your address.
- VOTE411.org is a one-stop-shop for election-related information. It provides nonpartisan information in both English and Spanish to the public with both general and state-specific information. This tool provides candidate and issue information based on where you vote.
- Ballotready.org provides personalized, nonpartisan information to voters in all 50 states. Using their tool, you can input your address, view candidates and measures on your ballot, and make a plan for election day.
- PolitiFact offers election specific fact checking. You can also check facts from incumbent politicians and news you may see on social media.
- They’ve nailed down who is running and what is on the ballot, but where do they cast their vote. This Vote.org tool can help young people find their polling places.
- Teen Vogue teamed up with Headcount for a Voting 101 FAQ, written for young and first time voters.
- TurboVote is a one-stop-shop of voter information that also provided personalized voting reminders.
- Civic Influencers has a mobile tool for young people that brings everything from registration to pledging to vote right to your smart phone.
Here are some organizations with voting resources for your classrooms and organizations.
- Nonprofit Vote provides nonpartisan resources to help nonprofits integrate voter engagement into their ongoing activities and services.
- Civic Influencers put together the Campus Election Engagement Project to provides some ideas for incorporating civic engagement into college courses.
- Scholars Strategy Network has a faculty guide for informing students about voting.
- iCivics has a high school lesson plan called “Voting: Will You Do It?”
- CIRCLE makes recommendations for policymakers, educators, community groups, and families for growing civic skills around voting before young people turn 18.
- The National Council for the Social Studies has a guide for K-12 educators to teach the election in nonpartisan ways.
Youth Vote Impact
Looking to galvanize the importance of voting with young people? Here are some facts and figures showing just how much impact casting a ballot can have.
- 46 million young people ages 18-29 years old are eligible to vote, while 39 million seniors are eligible to vote.
- Young people (18-29) make up 21% of the voting-eligible population in the U.S.
- Young people face unique barriers to voting. According to CIRCLE, irrespective of voter registration status, many young voters experience difficulties arranging their work or school schedule, finding transportation to the polls, or understanding where to vote.
- CIRCLE developed the Youth Electoral Significance Index (YESI) to measure which states and races stand to have the most influence by the youth vote. Click here to explore the index.
- The Harvard Youth Poll found that, six months out from the election, youth turnout in 2022 midterm elections is on track to match 2018 turnout, with 36% of young Americans reporting that they will “definitely” be voting compared to 37% at this stage in 2018.
- About half the young people surveyed in “Looking Forward with Gen Z” are regularly discussing politics with peers. This report from the Walton Family Foundation and Murmuration also shows that 64% of 15-25-year-olds believe that our country’s challenges are so great that they must engage.
- In 2020, 12 of 15 congressional seats flipped by a fraction of local campus enrollment. Find more information and statistics about the voter margins and potential impact of college age voters through Civic Influencer’s Mobilizing the Margins tool.
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