In 2022, 23% of eligible youth aged 18-29 cast a ballot in the midterm elections, one of the highest midterm youth voter turnouts since the voting age was lowered to 18, and young people’s engagement in elections remains high, according to our partners at CIRCLE. CIRCLE data also supports that states with higher increases in registration also led in turnout, showing that registration matters.
LWV’s Spring 2023 Youth Voter Registration
The League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF) has registered, educated, and engaged young people through its Youth Voter Registration project since 2010.
In January – June 2023, 86 Leagues hosted close to 1000 events and registered over 19,000 youth in high schools, community colleges, technical and vocational schools, and other youth-serving areas, like community and recreation centers. And that’s just the 86 Leagues mentioned — our 750+ Leagues nationwide did even more!
Over 2000 volunteers spent 14,500+ hours preparing and executing youth voter registration events and providing follow-up before elections to encourage turnout. Leagues reached over 85,000 young people with voting information and distributed 62,000 League materials, including voter guides and election information handouts. Leagues recruited over 600 new members, including many student members, as part of their projects.
Get involved in voter registration in your community — join one of the 700+ state and local Leagues!
What Contributes to Leagues’ Success?
League volunteers have continuously found that utilizing youth leadership gets students more engaged and excited about voting and elections. This includes engaging in peer-to-peer voter registration and education.
The LWV of Maine reported that partnering League volunteers with high school students to run registration drives “tripled the number of students registered at these locations.”
Likewise, the LWV of Milwaukee (WI) reported that “working with students to organize their own events results in better registration results...Students do the publicity, take positions at the events, and recruit their classmates to register...When done year after year, it becomes an annual event, and the school takes pride in their results.”
Leagues have also found that building relationships with school staff, administrators, and trusted mentors can increase youth engagement.
“We registered 103 students in 2.5 hours at one high school with the help of a student League member who attends the school and a social studies teacher and his students,” said members of the LWV of Henderson County (NC).
Partnerships with local organizations, government, and social service centers are also beneficial for reaching young voters and building a better knowledge and volunteer base.
“Our great success was continuing our relationship with House of Hope, a shelter for parents under 25 and their children, said the LWV of Greater Green Bay (WI). “This year, we spent some of our money on coloring sheets and crayons so kids could stay occupied while we talked to parents. By using voting-themed materials, kids could also take something home that reminded their parents to vote.”
“We worked closely with the NYC Civic Engagement Commission to conduct in-person voting for the NYC's inaugural Citywide Participatory Budgeting," said the LWV of New York City (NY).“Our youth and adult civics programs helped augment our volunteer and staff resources considerably and bring their fresh ideas and insights into how to reach prospective youth voters.”
Engagement Beyond Registration and Turnout
In addition to voter registration and contact, Leagues also share opportunities to be civically engaged beyond submitting a ballot. While 26 states have elections on November 7 this year, other states are gearing up for election support for 2024, including recruiting poll workers. Empowering youth to help support and make the voices of their community heard can start with becoming an election worker. In 2020, 8% of young people 18-29 reported serving as poll workers; however, 33% said they would if given the opportunity, as reported by CIRCLE’s pre-election poll.
“By providing poll worker information, we were able to recruit and send several people for training by election officials, and they were assigned to various voting sites across the county,” said members of the LWV of Central Delaware.
Poll worker engagement is crucial as we approach election season. Learn more about becoming a poll worker.
League Successes in Their Own Words
When asked, “What was your greatest success this Spring?”, Leagues responded:
- “Our registration numbers were up from 1566 last Spring to 2,193 this Spring.” - LWV of Cy-Fair (TX)
- “Our greatest success was having ALL the attendees of our five presentations one morning at a local charter high school register (or preregister depending on their age) to vote...40% of them signed a sheet requesting that the League send text or email reminders of upcoming elections.” - LWV of Piedmont Triad (NC)
- “We were in three public high schools, two private schools, and a Boys and Girls Club, contacting an estimated 547 students...we achieved eight new student League members for our League.” - LWV of Hilton Head (SC)
Support our work registering young voters!
What’s Next for LWV Youth Voter Engagement?
In 2023 and 2024, Leagues plan to continue registering and educating youth to power our democracy.
“We have been working in the schools for over 50 years and will continue. Engaging our younger voters is necessary for our Democracy,” said the LWV of Wichita Metro (KS).
Many Leagues have events lined up in their communities, like LWV of Janesville (WI). “We are seen as a trusted and respected resource in the community for voter education. We were in 100% of our high schools, charter schools, and local universities for multiple visits and have already scheduled events for the fall of 2023 and spring of 2024!”
Membership & Local Leagues
Get involved in registration efforts in your community with your local League!
Other Leagues are planning to expand their work and find more ways to support the needs of young people.
“In our community, the young people of ages 16-30 have directly reached out and asked us to explain how local politics directly affects them,” shared LWV of Dare County (NC). “We have a lot more to do.”
Indeed, there is still more work to do. Youth of color and youth without college experience were underrepresented in the 2022 midterm turnout, showing that race and education inequities affect young people’s engagement. Empowering youth around the voting process, addressing barriers that may prevent or hinder young people’s participation, like the accessibility of voting locations, and advocating for more inclusive election policies are ways we can mitigate the differences in turnout.
Engaging all young voters to make their voices heard remains a priority for the League of Women Voters in 2023 and beyond.