What Helps Youth Vote? Direct Civic Information and Political Homes
Authors: Sara Suzuki, Abby Kiesa
Contributors: Alberto Medina, SJ McGeady
A new CIRCLE analysis based on data from our 2022 post-election youth survey helps answer the question of what youth need to feel confident and informed enough to vote—and how many young people are currently enjoying or lacking that critical support.
One key resource that can support youth voting is exposure to civic information and opportunities for young people to discuss what they learn. Youth may see or hear about an election or about social, political, and economic issues from organizations and political parties. But civic information can also come from young people’s personal networks (e.g. friends, family) or from mass media and social media.
Whether young people belong to organizations, groups, and movements may also play a role in whether they vote. Access to these civic spaces, which may serve as political homes, can play an important role as a source of both resources and community. Our new analysis defines these dimensions of potential support and quantifies their impact on youth voting in the 2022 midterms.
Key takeaways from our analysis include:
- Having access to direct civic information and belonging to a political home may boost youth voting.
- Seeing information from mass media and social media also had a positive association with self-reported voting, but the effect was smaller than the effects of direct civic information and political homes on voting.
- Youth who are deeply embedded within political homes and have rich access to civic information—in other words, youth who may be characterized as activists and organizers—were the most likely to vote and feel confident about politics.
- Most youth (85%) do not have access to high amounts of direct civic information or to political homes. This is associated with lower levels of confidence when it comes to political involvement, and a lower likelihood of voting.
- Youth who lack access to civic information and support often cited lack of time, lack of information and thinking “voting is not important” as reasons for not voting. Among youth with greater access to civic information and support, if they did not vote it was often due to a lack of time.
This advanced statistical analysis adds further weight to the recommendations in our CIRCLE Growing Voters framework which call for more outreach and information to youth, more supportive spaces where they can wield that information, and a civic culture (or several community-specific cultures) that value and promote youth participation.
These findings point to the steps that communities and organizations must take to fully support young people. The CIRCLE Growing Voters report and framework expands on how different stakeholders can take on these efforts, and our list of 24 ways to grow voters before the 2024 election can help individuals and institutions get started today.
CIRCLE Growing Voters
Released in 2022, the CIRCLE Growing Voters report introduces a new framework to transform how communities and institutions prepare youth for democracy. It includes major recommendations for organizations across sectors to do this work more equitably and effectively.