Youth Voter Turnout Shuts Down a Tired Narrative

Youth Voter Turnout Shuts Down a Tired Narrative

People participate in a protest in support of counting all votes as the election in Pennsylvania is still unresolved. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

In the hours since yesterday’s presidential nail biter election, there’s still no winner declared, leaving everyone nervous regardless of party affiliation. 

The race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden remains tight as thousands of ballots are still being counted in several swing states like Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

But while that election outcome is still uncertain, what is for sure, is that young adults voted in record numbers as nearly 10 million had cast ballots even before Election Day. And according to research from CIRCLE, the youth vote has the potential to shape the outcome and decide the presidency. 

Young voters preferred former Vice President Joe Biden to President Donald Trump in 34 of the 38 states for which data has been reported. And nationally, based on CIRCLE analysis of AP VoteCast data from the Associated Press, 62% of young voters, ages 18 to 29 voted for Biden, and 33% voted for Trump. 

While young voters showed up in record numbers, several issues drove them to the polls.

“The most pressing is the environment because it seems like it’s almost like the last chance we have to fix that,” said Thomas Walker, a 24-year-old Virginia resident. “But then there’s also other things that are important, especially racial justice … People have been fighting for racial justice, and our government has been beating them down day after day.”

Regardless of the specific issues or elections that drove young voters to the polls, CIRCLE reported that youth voters helped shape the 2020 election simply by convincing other youth to vote, talking to friends about political issues or elections and protesting. 

While the 2020 election is unique for several reasons, from taking place during a worldwide pandemic to the national civil unrest throughout the country has seen since summer, one of the biggest differences from the 2016 election is that results may be stalled for several days

However, young voters say the timeline of results isn’t what matters when it comes to this election. 

“Whether the results are released today, tomorrow or a week from now — all the American people want is a fair election that encompasses all of our votes and is free from corruption,” said Eric Arenas, a student at Georgia State University. 

With the fear of large crowds gathering after last night’s election, many cities prepared for spurs of violence, regardless of the election results, by boarding up businesses, closing off roads to try and maintain crowd control. 

“If the election runs smoothly and fair, there should be nothing to worry about,” Arenas said.” People will protest when they feel an injustice is done. Oftentimes, this is the only way that the voiceless can be heard. It is the only way higher-ups will actually pay attention to the people.”

Reporters Miranda Perez and Dan Papscun contributed to this report.