Phew, thanks everyone for participating!As always, appreciate the dynamic discussion around the weird world of voting.

Get out to the polls if you haven't yet today, and find all the info you need (polling location, ballot info, etc) here:DoSomething’s Election Center.

Catch us on Twitter: Michaela Bethune; Abby Kiesa

I’m Michaela Bethune, Head of Campaigns at DoSomething.org, the largest tech not-for-profit exclusively dedicated to young people social change and civic action. This cycle, I did AMAs for National Voter Registration Day and National Absentee Ballot Day. I’m excited to be back to answer more of your questions on Election Day, specifically about young people and voting.

I’m joined by my colleague, Abby Kiesa, Director of Impact at CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts College). Abby serves as a liaison to practitioner organizations across the country to maintain a conversation between research and practice. She also provides leadership for CIRCLE’s election strategies as well as communications. She is versed in the wide range of youth civic and political engagement efforts and practice.

Today is Election Day. This year, there have been many questions about whether renewed interest in political activism among young people would translate to voter turnout. From early voting, we’re already seeing high youth voter turnout that smashes 2014 totals. Curious about what youth voter engagement has looked like over the years? Wondering why young people are so motivated this year? Ask Us Anything about young people and voting.

While you’re waiting for an answer, make sure to vote today if you’re eligible! Find your polling place, ballot information, and more using DoSomething’s Election Center.

Proof:

https://i.redd.it/fnzfr9jc7lw11.jpg

https://i.redd.it/p2n1r7t97lw11.jpg

Comments: 886 • Responses: 41  • Date: 

subduedReality256 karma

I voted... This up

Now for my question. I heard from a friend that Uber is giving discounts today. Is this going to impact the turn out?

HeadOfCampaigns395 karma

Transportation to the polls is one of the major barriers for young people to vote. In fact, 14% say that they don't vote because they can't get to the polls. The ride discounts from Uber, Lyft, and other companies are to tackle this barrier and will definitely have an impact on turnout!

canitasteyourjuice216 karma

The amendments on my ballot are very confusing. Is there a non biased website that breaks them down in laments terms? I’m in Florida. Thanks

HeadOfCampaigns238 karma

Hi great question! Check out ballotready.org -- they break down the issues in a very objective way with all the info you need to vote!

Valdrax130 karma

As someone who is reaching middle age and can no longer really consider myself young, I'm actually a bit more interested if you know whether an old saw is true about aging and increased conservatism.

Do people grow more conservative with age, or do their beliefs stay the same and get left behind, or do they move in waves of static belief as older people die off and younger people start voting?

I know I've stayed pretty liberal overall as I've aged despite other shifts in beliefs, but is that typical or does polling & demographic data indicate that's normal or not?

HeadOfCampaigns229 karma

When we look at Gen Z (those born after 1999), we're seeing that 49% of them identify as moderate (on the spectrum of conservative to liberal) and that 47% of them identify as either "independent" or "unaffiliated." Increasingly, young people aren't identifying with either political party, which gives way to the potential for the parties to fundamentally change to better reflect the values, experiences, and identities of the next generation.

thekajl126 karma

Hi Abby and Michaela,

What are some of the biggest misconceptions you see in how the media portrays young people and their voting habits?

Thanks! Keep up the good work!

HeadOfCampaigns266 karma

Amazing question -- the media has such an important role in influencing civic participation. When the media covers that "young people don't vote" or "young people won't turn out" this actually demobilizes young people, and normalizes the behavior to abstain from voting. It also excludes the fact that many systems and processes are set up to suppress the youth vote. Statements like this ignore completely the physical, psychological, and social barriers that prevent young people from voting, and portrays this generation as apathetic or disengaged.

You can read more here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/11/05/how-news-coverage-came-to-devalue-voters-and-what-could-make-it-better/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.d43300b6a3cf

xXNuclearTacoXx84 karma

Can I drop my ballot off at a different polling station than the one I was assigned at? I live in California and am 2 hours away from home. For college.

HeadOfCampaigns123 karma

Hi there! If you voted by absentee, you'll need to ensure it gets to your local board of elections by three days after the Election. Definitely put it in the mail today and express it. You shouldn't drop it off at a different polling place as it won't be counted.

cahaseler81 karma

How can I encourage friends who "don't see the point"?

HeadOfCampaigns151 karma

Love that you're ready to tackle this conversation!

A few go-to talking points:

  1. Close Elections. Your vote can make a huge impact, especially during local elections (things like Governors, mayors, school boards, important ballot measures on social issues, etc). So many elections have been decided by one, single vote. A state election last year was tied, so the winner was selected by drawing names out of a hat.
  2. Issue Based. Especially in a midterm year, issues motivate people to the polls more than candidates. There are so many important ballot measures this year, such as a ballot measure to prevent discrimination against transgender people in Massachusetts, and to raise the assault rifle age to 21 in Washington.
  3. Voting Blocs. Politicians don't just look at what party people vote, but what groups of people vote. So, for example, if 75% of voters 65+ vote consistently in every elections, politicians will tailor their policies to those who actually turn out to vote. Conversely, if only 25% of those 18 - 29 vote, then there's lower incentive for politicians to prioritize the issues important to that voting bloc.
  4. Public Record. Once you vote, you’ll be on the voter file (which is public information). That means, when you contact your elected officials to advocate for an issue, they will also check whether or not you turn out to vote. If you are a consistent voter (you turn out regularly for elections) your voice actually matters more to elected officials.

Noam98766 karma

What are the main causes of increased numbers of young voters? Do you think these numbers will last?

HeadOfCampaigns92 karma

A few contributing factors to the increased numbers of young voters:

  • Increased interest in politics. For years we've asked young people (13 - 25 year olds) what is more impactful: volunteering or political engagement, and they answered that volunteering was a more direct, more valuable way to take action in their communities. In spring 2017 for the first time, we saw 2/3 of our members found both political engagement and volunteering to be equally impactful.
  • Youth-Led Movements. Youth led movements like Black Lives Matter, Defend Dreamers, and March for Our Lives have been fueling activism, and directly connecting these issues to the need to turn out to the polls.
  • No change in government. About 50% of young people identify as unaffiliated or independent, and aren't seeing their values, backgrounds, or experiences represented in our current government. This is the most racially diverse generation ever, with 46% of young people identifying as a race other than white, and they don't see that represented in the current gov't.

MrDodBodalina35 karma

What makes you experts?

Why is this year more historic than any previous year? Will the next election be the most historic?

HeadOfCampaigns37 karma

Thank you for your interest in learning a bit more about us!

I'm from DoSomething.org, founded in 1993, has been on the frontlines of mobilizing young people around the country to take action in their communities for the past 25 years. We have over six million members between the ages of 13 -25 years old, in every area code in the U.S., which allows us to have high touch-points into the behavior of young people on the ground.

Abby is from CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement) out of Tufts University, the leading research institute for young people and civic engagement. CIRCLE has long been the leading source of authoritative research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.

In regards to why this year is more historic than any previous year, we're seeing amazing results in regards to early voting thus far and voter registration rates for young people.

Some sources:

- http://time.com/5438522/2018-midterm-elections-youth-voters/

- https://civicyouth.org/generation-z-voters-could-make-waves-in-2018-midterm-elections/
- https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/midterms-2018-election-early-voting-texas-georgia-beto-orourke-ted-cruz-trump-a8609916.html

WillShakeSpear135 karma

I'm a grandparent who went to a help register young voters at a Marijuana festival. I thought it'd be easy. Nope. So many young folks said they didn't want to register because: A. They'll have to serve on a jury, B. They'd have to reregister their car at a higher insurance rate (students living away from home), C. Takes too much time...

How do you respond to these objections from today's youth?

HeadOfCampaigns30 karma

Thanks for helping get people registered! It's as rewarding as it is difficult.

There are a ton of misconceptions out there about what being registered to vote takes and what it means (like FYI even if you're not registered to vote the government will find you for jury duty). So we focus on having easy and pithy answers to some of those misconceptions and making sure that we're making the process as easy as possible through online voter regisration. You can find some of our common answer to those questions if you scroll down on our voter regisration site here: https://vote.dosomething.org/

Depending on the background of the person who you're talking to, they might have some pretty good reasons for feeling disgruntled and disengaged. I might not agree with the conclusion that voting doesn't matter but we try to empathize and understand where they're coming from.

I've also found that when doing in person voter registration that it's easy to get sucked into a 10 minute conversation with someone who wants to argue or tell you what you're doing doesn't matter. The best solution in that situation is when you feel like you're about to hit a brick wall to thank that person for their time, offer to have a deeper conversation about this later, and focus on finding the people who are excited and just haven't been asked to vote. We've seen in some polling of young people that around ~10% people haven't registered because no one has asked them to. We suggest focusing on those folks!

hokeythebandit34 karma

There is a senate seat up for vote in my state. In my opinion, the incumbent democrat is a shit head, and the challenging republican is a shit head with a side of shit sauce... (please excuse my explicit vocabulary).

I want to vote for the Green Party candidate. People are telling me it’s a wasted voted because there’s no way a candidate not affiliated with republicans or democrats will win.

What’s up with that? Is it possible for a “non-affiliated” candidate to win, if people like me just vote for who they believe in?

HeadOfCampaigns44 karma

I want to vote for the Green Party candidate. People are telling me it’s a wasted voted because there’s no way a candidate not affiliated with republicans or democrats will win.

First and foremost, vote for the candidate who represents the views you align with. That being said, we do live in a country with a two party system, so it is worth considering how likely they are to win. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide what's more important to you: voting for someone who aligns more with your values, or choosing someone who doesn't represent your values exactly but is more likely to win. It certainly is possible for an unaffiliated candidate to win, but it is less likely depending on the race.

BEEFTANK_Jr34 karma

In general, I think the common perception of youth voters is that they currently lean Democrat. Is this true and, if so, by how wide of a margin? Is there any expectation that as the Millenial and younger generations age and the Boomers exit the voting pool, will there likely be a large shift in the country to Democrat or are current voting trends largely going to stay the same?

HeadOfCampaigns72 karma

When we look at Gen Z (those born after 1999), we're seeing that 49% of them identify as moderate (on the spectrum of conservative to liberal) and that 47% of them identify as either "independent" or "unaffiliated." Increasingly, young people aren't identifying with either political party, which gives way to the potential for the parties to fundamentally change to better reflect the values, experiences, and identities of the next generation.

leugimthedev23 karma

If for some reason there is not a giant blue wave or even a change in there own district to blue. How do you think that will change young voters views on future elections or what kind of impact will have ?

HeadOfCampaigns42 karma

It's always difficult, for either side, when your candidate loses after you turn out to vote. However, what's integral to remind all voters, especially new voters participating in this process for the first time, is that it's important to continue to turn out for your community, and you local government, beyond Election Day. You can build people power in your community by continuing to participate in political processes, attend town halls, contact your elected officials, and getting folks registered and out to vote. This is a long-game, and you may not see the results you want immediately, but it's important to remember that we'll only get a democracy "for the people" when as many people as possible consistently participate!

wolley_dratsum16 karma

[deleted]

HeadOfCampaigns26 karma

We are strictly nonpartisan and in accordance with all regulations surrounding a 501c3. We're an organization to serve all young people -- we have 6 million members across the country, in every area code, of every party affiliation.

PantySlug8 karma

Why have we not found a way to implement online voting? We do almost everything else online so why not voting? I spent two hours in line in front and behind very outspoken and opinionated people that made me miserable the whole time. It seems to me that this system of voting by is out dated and annoying.

HeadOfCampaigns8 karma

Oof that sounds so frustrating. I agree, voting laws are incredibly complicated, nuanced, and inconsistent state to state (and they change frequently). While we don't have online voting currently, we have seen rapid movement recently to more and more states allowing online voter registration, with now 37 states + Washington D.C. allowing online voter reg. So, things are moving, albeit slowly, to catch up with technology.

To your point about the voting experience, there are other ways to make the voting process more seamless and efficient, by investing in more poll workers, longer voting hours, more early voting availability (so folks don't all have to vote on the same day) etc.

TheBassetHound137 karma

What's the age range for "youth"?

HeadOfCampaigns8 karma

Depends on who you ask. At DoSomething, we focus on young people aged 13-25. Polling data usually groups young people in 18-29, 18-24, or 18-21. Generally, under 30 is a good assumption when you see "youth" or "young people."

Eggbert_Eggleson7 karma

A colleague of mine was saying that the youth in the nation were moving more towards right policies. Is there any truth to that?

HeadOfCampaigns6 karma

When we look at Gen Z (those born after 1999), we're seeing that 49% of them identify as moderate (on the spectrum of conservative to liberal) and that 47% of them identify as either "independent" or "unaffiliated." Increasingly, young people aren't identifying with either political party, which gives way to the potential for the parties to fundamentally change to better reflect the values, experiences, and identities of the next generation.

HeadOfCampaigns1 karma

I wouldn't characterize it as youth moving toward more right-wing policies, but rather a large chunk of young people are independent. From CIRCLE: "one-third (33.1%) are independents—a segment of youth nearly as large as those who identify as Democrats (35.5%), and far greater than registered Republicans (20.9%)." We see young people abandoning aligning with traditional parties and still keeping the same affinities toward more liberal-leaning policies.

jegador6 karma

Is it common for students away at college to have trouble registering to vote? I have multiple family members away at school who weren’t able to register on time because they didn’t have time to figure out and mail all the correct forms with classes and everything else going on in their life.

HeadOfCampaigns6 karma

Yes, some states make it so difficult for students to register at their college address! Michigan is a perfect example -- the state has a law that requires you to have a Michigan driver's license with your voter registration address to vote in their state, which many out-of-state college students don't meet.

HoltbyIsMyBae3 karma

Is there a relationship between frequency of moving and voter turnout? In other words, are young people (twenties and younger) more likely to move more often than any other age group and does this affect their likelihood to vote (due to maintaining their registration, being too busy moving, etc)?

HeadOfCampaigns6 karma

Yes! Young people are 3.5x more likely to move than people over the age of 40. This does end up complicating their connection to voting as they have to continue to update their voting address within deadlines. Additionally, they often feel less of a connection to the new community they move to, and are unsure if they should vote absentee in their hometown (if they still have a permanent address there), or register to vote in their new district. Out of state college students prefer to vote absentee to their hometown 2:1, which requires students to be up to date on absentee voting laws to ensure they get their ballot in on time.

CrazyMike3663 karma

We’re seeing reports of “record turnouts” for a midterm, especially in regards to early voting. How can we say it bodes well for Democrats or Republicans? Shouldn’t it bode well for whoever has more registered voters in the area, regardless of momentum?

HeadOfCampaigns5 karma

It's really hard to read early voting results, especially since everything can change so dramatically with votes today. Even exit poll data will only truly demonstrate trends rather than exact results. To you question about how it bodes for parties, it isn't necessarily true that the more registered voters in the area, the better for that party. Modeling is imperfect, especially since voters break party lines now more than ever. We'll see trends tonight, but really won't know anything concrete until the polls close.

Did_Not_Finnish3 karma

Is it true that most people tend to vote more conservative as they grow older?

HeadOfCampaigns9 karma

Actually there's a ton of academic research that indicates generations have distinct political identities, but that most people’s basic outlooks and orientations are set fairly early on in life. That means early political experiences often define how you vote for the rest of your life (of course barring major changes to the political landscape). So no, it's not necessarily true that the older you get, the more conservative you become.

Pew Research did a great summary in 2014: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/07/09/the-politics-of-american-generations-how-age-affects-attitudes-and-voting-behavior/

HeadOfCampaigns0 karma

When we look at Gen Z (those born after 1999), we're seeing that 49% of them identify as moderate (on the spectrum of conservative to liberal) and that 47% of them identify as either "independent" or "unaffiliated." Increasingly, young people aren't identifying with either political party, which gives way to the potential for the parties to fundamentally change to better reflect the values, experiences, and identities of the next generation.

ThePyroPython3 karma

What have been the most successful strategies that young people themselves or collectively can implement to increase voter participation?

HeadOfCampaigns4 karma

One of the most successful strategies for increasing voter participation has been relational organizing (basically the way organizers talk about how volunteers text people they already know). We see contact and turnout rates at much higher levels when volunteers simply text their own friends, family, classmates, etc. and get them to show up, since the warm relationship is already there. Young people are especially poised to benefit from this because we're so connected and have multiple ways (usually) of reaching the people closest to us. If every person just reached out to 5 people in their network, we would see incredible participation -- that's why it's one of the foremost strategies used by non-profits, political campaigns, etc. today.

HeadOfCampaigns3 karma

Hey everyone, Michaela from DoSomething.org here to answer all of your questions around young people & voting! Eager to help answer anything I can, let's do this! If you're looking for your polling location, or info on your ballot, everything you need right here: DoSomething’s Election Center.

iamoldenough20133 karma

How can we get higher youth participation in future elections?

Here’s the reason for my question. I’ve been doing work for the last year and a half with Sister District Project. With other organizations, we have worked as a coalition to motivate new folks to volunteer for grassroots electoral organizations. We’ve had success with parties which have direct calls to action.

I’m curious about other methods.

HeadOfCampaigns4 karma

Great questions! This year, we've registered over 100,000 new voters, and mobilized millions more to get to the polls, and have learned a lot to share out with folks and orgs looking to get out the vote.

The biggest thing we can do, that is more about the "long-game", is to change the culture around voting. As a society, how can we have voting be something that everyone participates in? How can we ensure that classes and work commitments are flexible on election day (or it becomes a National Holiday) to increase the likeliness of people being able, and encouraged, to turn out and vote? Groups like Vote Together focus on throwing "parties at the polls" to make Election Day as big of a celebration as the Fourth of July, and their interventions have a 4% increase in voter turnout. https://votetogetherusa.org/

amandapanda6112 karma

In your experience, what is the most effective method to increase voter registration among young voters? Examples: tabling, social media, drives that are tied to some other cause, etc.

HeadOfCampaigns3 karma

Love this question! Voter registration is complicated and confusing, so making it as digestible as possible is so important for these first-time voters. We've done voter registration across multiple channels: digital marketing, SMS/email, tabling, social media, etc. We've found that all of these sources combined are necessary to reach as many young people as possible -- especially since not many people register after being asked once (they have to be asked multiple times).

360walkaway1 karma

Ugh I wish I could get my dad to vote. He just sits around all day bitching about government and how he always got screwed, but I don't think he's voted once ever. Any way to get him more engaged?

HeadOfCampaigns1 karma

Woof this is a tough one. Sometimes it can be difficult to get people to the polls, so it's important to figure out why he doesn't want to vote, since everyone has their own, unique reasons.

A good place to start is to figure out what issues he's most passionate about, and show him how those issues (whether it's healthcare, immigration, gun violence, etc) play out at the local level. It's hard to think you can engage or change anything at the federal level, so finding ways to engage in local politics, where you can directly and more immediately see the effects of your participation, is a great place to start.

A few other arguments to use:

  1. Close Elections. Your vote can make a huge impact, especially during local elections (things like Governors, mayors, school boards, important ballot measures on social issues, etc). So many elections have been decided by one, single vote. A state election last year was tied, so the winner was selected by drawing names out of a hat.
  2. Issue Based. Especially in a midterm year, issues motivate people to the polls more than candidates. There are so many important ballot measures this year, such as a ballot measure to prevent discrimination against transgender people in Massachusetts, and to raise the assault rifle age to 21 in Washington.
  3. Public Record. Once you vote, you’ll be on the voter file (which is public information). That means, when you contact your elected officials to advocate for an issue, they will also check whether or not you turn out to vote. If you are a consistent voter (you turn out regularly for elections) your voice actually matters more to elected officials.

DeciusMoose1 karma

[deleted]

HeadOfCampaigns2 karma

Hi! Provisional ballots are only used when a voter's eligibility is in question or there was a clerical error on the part of the election office. If you're registered in a different county, you can still vote in that county as long as you still have a permanent mailing address there (even if it's not the one you currently live at)!

Dop3stGh0st1 karma

Is there any difference in how young women vote vs. young men? If yes, in what ways do they differ?

HeadOfCampaigns3 karma

Vox reports, "Among millennials, which Pew identifies as people born between 1981 and 1996, men lean toward Democrats by 8 percentage points — far and away a bigger tilt toward Democrats than older cohorts of men. But millennial women favor Democrats by a staggeringly large 70-23 margin."

Full article here regarding the partisan gender gap: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/3/22/17146534/millennial-gender-gap-partisan

tjunk51 karma

Sorry if this isn’t the right place, but I’m in college in California. My polling place is in my hometown, but can I still vote at school? Thank you for any help/answers!

HeadOfCampaigns2 karma

Great Q! It depends on where you're registered to vote. You can check where your registration is here: https://www.vote.org/am-i-registered-to-vote/

Unfortunately if you haven't requested an absentee ballot by this point (as the election is today) it's unlikely you'll be able to vote in your hometown. However, California has same day registration, so you should be able to go to your local polling location/board of elections and register to vote today.

Gemedes1 karma

Hi! Thanks for doing the ama! How do you get involved “aka become a candidate in the local elections” sure u can file to be a candidate but is the only viable path going through your local party? I was a political science major in college but got burned out after interning for a congressman as I’ve gotten older I’ve found a lot of issues that I think are worth getting back in the game what do you recommend to be on this path for the 2020 elections?

HeadOfCampaigns0 karma

Yes! Exciting that you want to get involved in running for office. I would start by checking out these amazing resources below, as there are plenty of new organizations focused on getting new people into local offices.

This org is non-partisan: https://www.runforoffice.org/

This org, Run for Something, focuses on young progressives get onboarded and supported to run for local office. https://runforsomething.net/

This org focuses on helping women run for office: https://www.sheshouldrun.org/

1wingedangel0 karma

Do you expect the Walkout to Vote to work out well, and see a big turnout of young voters from it?

HeadOfCampaigns2 karma

In many other democratic countries, it's a national holiday, and everyone has the day off from work and school. These countries also, not surprisingly, have significantly higher turnout rates that ours. The Walkout is smart as it advocates for schools to allow young people the time to turn out to the polls. Hopefully moving forward, there will be more access to the polls for all Americans, to increase voter turnout amongst disenfranchised groups.

cricket98180 karma

Is there anything that indicates that young voters are more informed or aware than voters of other age brackets? With information as accessible as ever and kids these days born into using technology, I'd like to think they actually know what they're doing.

HeadOfCampaigns2 karma

What we do know is that (1) young people are more anxious about not "knowing enough" or having enough information in order to vote (or even discuss politics in general) and (2) young people increasingly are looking to seek out information and opinions that are different than their own. This fear of not knowing enough demonstrates a desire to be as educated and informed as possible, before making such a huge decision such as casting a ballot. We don't see those same levels of fear or anxiety in older voters.

extrabagles-1 karma

Hi!

I’m a student who missed early/absentee deadlines. I’m going to school in TX, but currently a different county from where I’m registered (also TX, about 6 hours from home). Is there anything I can do today? I know I should’ve gone early and feel like a big dummy.

HeadOfCampaigns5 karma

Hey! I'm so sorry, but unfortunately Texas does not have same day registration so you wouldn't be able to switch your registration. I'd recommend ensuring that all your friends show up to the polls! Share a polling locator with them: https://www.dosomething.org/us/polling-locator-2018