Youth voters on steady rise ahead of 2022 midterm elections


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Youth voters have increased in recent years, according to a study from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

With midterm elections approaching, youth voter turnout will impact ever changing issues.

The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement estimates that 50% of 18- to 29-year-olds voted in the 2020 presidential election, an 11-point increase from the 39% that voted in the 2016 election.

The report says that 46% of 18- to 29-year-olds voted in Illinois. This was also an increase from the 2016 election. In fact, no state saw a decrease in youth voter turnout between 2016 and 2020. 2018 was a record-setting turnout for youth voting for a midterm year.

Mark Schuller, an associate professor of anthropology at NIU, said that the importance of student voting cannot be understated.

“We professors can talk about it (encouraging younger generations to vote) until tomorrow, but folks need to own the issue,” Schuller said.

Mary Horn, a junior political science major, said she plans on voting in the upcoming midterms and will be an election judge in Aurora, her hometown.

“It’s definitely important to go out for the midterms too because the voter turn out in any group is lower than in presidential elections,” Horn said.

Horn encouraged youth voters who feel that their vote does not matter to come out and vote because of how close the past election was.

“If we want changes, we’re going to have to go out and do it,” Horn said. “We can’t trust the older generations to be thinking of us.”

Horn said that anyone’s vote can really make a big difference. She mentioned how the 2020 presidential election was decided by a slim margin. In a local election where not as many people vote, each vote can make an even bigger difference.

“Everyone has a different issue that they care about at the moment,” Horn said. “A lot of really big issues are on the midterm ballot. After Roe v Wade, inflation and more.”

She said that because there are so many important issues on the ballot, everyone should be able to find a reason to go out and vote.

Matthew Evans, a senior computer science major, said because of his exposure to various campaign ads that he may or may not vote.

“Oftentimes, politicians show that they’re extremely selfish and corrupt and are only in it for themselves,” Evans said. He said that students should be offered incentives that reward them for voting. Evans also said that politicians should make more of an effort to be mindful of what the student body believes.

“People that really care about change who are very active in the political climate will vote and voice their opinions in politics while others simply don’t care since they believe it does not affect them,” Evans said.

Schuller said he believes that students need to encourage and excite other students to want to vote. He said that professors can only help so much.

“The most important reason students should vote is student debt and the rising costs of higher education,” Schuller said. “Young people should vote to flex the political muscle, to make sure that young people’s priorities are addressed when elected officials make decisions about what programs to support or cut.”