What percent of young people vote?

Whenever an election year rolls around, questions concerning the percentages of people voting always take front and centre. It can be quite surprising how important a certain demographic can be in deciding who will be the next U.S. president. Some years, the focus is on ethnicity while other election years feature certain religious groups. However, year after year, experts seek to analyse the youth vote. So, what percentage of young people actually vote?


Within any sort of statistical data to elections and voting, there are certain parameters set that allow people to actually read the available information. In regard to age, it is usually broken up into 10- or 20-year age spans, except for the youngest grouping which only runs from 18 to 24. From there, it would be broken down into age 25 to 34, age 35 to 44 and so on.


For the youth vote, which is typically defined as ages 18 to 24, around 50 per cent of eligible voters register and just 81 per cent of these voters actually vote, making the percentage of young people voting falling just over 40 per cent overall for this demographic. Compared to the rest of the voters, that makes this group the lowest turnout for the voting public.


To break the youth vote down even further, you can look at the sexes and which sex is more apt to vote over the other, educational background and what education level is more apt to vote. Though the percentages are fairly close within the sexes, of the youth vote, 46 per cent will be male and 54 per cent will be female. With educational background, you'll see a greater divide with just over 63 per cent of those young people voting to have attended college, just over 28 per cent will have graduated from high school and the remaining 8 per cent not having a diploma or GED.


In the 2008 presidential election of Barak Obama, there was an increase in the youth vote, with around 18 per cent of total voters being made up of the youth demographic (yet the report used a slightly wider scope in defining youth--ages 18 to 29). The importance of getting the youth vote isn't simply about getting the actual vote, though there is some weight to that. The real motivation is establishing a voting base for years to come.


There is a general perception that few U.S. youth vote. This is actually a misconception. Though still considered the lowest demographic in voter turnout, the youth vote is actually the segment of the voting public that shows the largest increase within recent years with an 11 per cent overall increase in 2004 and a projected larger increase in 2008. New Hampshire alone saw a 43 per cent turnout of youth voters in the primaries. Also, this is the one demographic that people could conceivably spend only a single presidential voting year within; all other division will see a voter in twice.

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About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.