Lower Barriers to Voting Means Higher Youth Voter Participation

Voter turnout is notoriously low among young people. However, the dominant narrative that young folks don’t vote because we are simply apathetic is largely inaccurate. Often, the primary barriers preventing young voters from voting are structural, not personal.  

For example, voters age 18-34 face higher levels of voting challenges than all other age groups with barriers such as not being able to take time off work to vote, missing voter registration deadlines, not receiving their absentee ballot in time, and not being able to find their polling place. When we remove barriers to voting,  we can boost youth voter participation rates.  

Unsurprisingly, with many states adopting universal vote-by-mail systems, or allowing for no-excuse absentee voting, we are seeing a surge of youth voter participation in the 2020 general election. In Vermont, for the first time ever, every active, registered voter was mailed their ballot this year, and we’re already seeing record voter turnout across the board.  

Even with universal vote-by-mail, though, some young voters may face challenges. Since young people tend to change addresses more frequently than other people, many may not have their current address up to date on their voter file, meaning they wouldn’t have received their mail-in ballot automatically.  

Thankfully, Vermont has some of the lowest barriers to voting in the country. Whether someone has never registered before, or if they are living in a new address and didn’t get their mail-in ballot, same-day voter registration allows any voter in Vermont to register and vote on the same day.  

With fewer barriers than ever for voters this year, we hope to see a wave of young voters casting their ballots in the 2020 general election. If you still have a mail-in ballot, return it to your town clerk during office hours, drop it off in your town’s ballot return drop box, or take it with you to the polls on Election Day. If you didn’t receive a mail-in ballot, or simply prefer to vote in person, you can vote as you normally would at the polls on Election Day — just make sure you wear a mask (and bring your own black pen if you’d like!). 

Find your town clerk’s contact info and ballot return drop box location using our Ballot Drop Box Lookup Tool

Find your local polling location at the Secretary of State’s Website.  

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