The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


Youth voters often sway elections

Study finds 11 percent increase in youth voters since 2016
Junior Lily Slutzky explains an activity at a Students Demand Action meeting on April 16. During the meeting, students wrote postcards encouraging Virginia residents to consider the issue of gun violence when voting in their primary. Photo by Lara White

A study conducted by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, also known as CIRCLE, reported that 50 percent of eligible young people voted in 2020, which was an 11 percent increase from 2016.

“In a lot of states, because young people often have a different vote choice than older people, they can have more of an impact on elections because often the amount of young people that turn out is larger than the gap between the two winning candidates,” CIRCLE researcher Peter de Guzman said.

According to Noorya Hayat, senior researcher at CIRCLE, young people who have access to high-quality civic education tend to vote more.

“We know that young people sometimes are not educated enough in schools and communities to know how to vote,” said Hayat. “So a lot of them don’t actually feel like they know how to vote, and that is on the communities, on the schools, on the K-12 system. You don’t just turn 18 and understand the voting system.”

According to de Guzman, youth voters tend to be less likely to vote than older groups due to various obstacles, including not knowing which address to register and vote at, political and social information, not having transportation to the polls, being uninformed and not having someone to help process voting deadlines.

“A lot of young people don’t have landlines, and they can’t easily be located through other records,” said de Guzman. “And so a lot of organizations don’t invest as much money into contacting them and campaigns and parties don’t as well.”

According to Hayat, the strongest influences on youth voting are family, peers and social media. 

If an issue has an impact on young people,it means they will vote and then talk to other young people about voting or post about it on social media, which is a powerful lever for lifelong civic engagement, Hayat said. 

According to de Guzman, there is a lot of dissatisfaction and distrust among young people regarding President Biden and former President Trump’s potential policies regarding the Israel-Hamas War. 

“When some surveys asked ‘Who do you trust?,’ we see that young people are not super enthusiastic about either major candidate,” de Guzman said.

Several issues will be on the ballot this upcomingNovember. 

“When young people go to vote this fall, it won’t just be a presidential ballot,” said de Guzman. “There will also be referendums, there’ll be ballot measures, and all of those really impact people’s lives very severely. And so I think that it’s important to take the time earlier on to think about if I want to participate, what do I need to make that happen? What deadlines are there? And also, what is going to be on my ballot?”

Senior Kelsey Motherway plans to vote in the upcoming presidential election.

“When I’ve grown up, my parents have always gone to vote,” said Motherway. “It’s just kind of been a thing that everyone in my family has done.”

Some aspects of the election frustrate her a little, Motherway said. 

“I have a clear idea of who I’m going to vote for, and it’s frustrating to hear people who might not agree with me because from my perspective it kind of seems like a no-brainer,” said Motherway. “Even though I wouldn’t say either of the candidates are ideal in any sense, I personally know which one I think is the better one.”

About the Contributor
Sunehri Patel, News Editor, Copy Editor
Sunehri Patel (‘25) is a News Editor and a Copy Editor and has been a member of Torch since her sophomore year. Previous positions: Staff Writer (22-23).