How President-elect Biden can meet the demands of young people

There would be no Biden-Harris victory without young voters, and specifically young voters of color. On January 20, 2021, when President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris are sworn in, the young voters who elected them will continue the fight for a big, bold policy agenda. It is crucial that those demands are centered by the new Administration. Our latest poll with Civiqs of young progressive voters in battleground states shows just what that bold future looks like.

Fifty-one percent of these young voters report that the most important issue for the Biden Administration to address is the coronavirus pandemic, which has been a top issue for nearly all of our pre-election monthly tracking polls. When asked which policy would be most important for the Biden Administration to implement on day one, young voters said rent payments should be cancelled during the pandemic. This is most important for young Black voters. The coronavirus has had devastating health and economic effects on young people and our families, and we are eager for a new president to take aggressive action. 

In the first 100 days, the top priority for the young voters who elected Biden and Harris is to end migrant separation at the border and reunite families. That demand is closely followed by increasing taxes on the rich, cancelling rent payments during the pandemic, ending gerrymandering, and cancelling student loan debt.

Finally, while the 2020 general election may be over,  young people will continue to build power in their communities. As Alliance network organizations demonstrate every day, the work is powerful because it’s year-round. Fifty-one percent of young voters polled say they are extremely motivated to be involved in civic engagement and politics in 2021. Young voters are also looking for political parties to better reflect their values with 44% reporting they are interested in alternative options to the two-party structure. 

Explore the full poll results including Biden’s campaign outreach, how young voters changed their voting behavior to ensure their vote was counted, and more here. Then, share the results on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Generation Z and Millennials will continue to be the biggest voting bloc for years to come. They are more than the margin of electoral victory, but rather the base mobilizing for the issues we care about most. The Biden Administration and the Democratic Party must show that they are willing to bring the issues young people care about to the table and have robust plans for how to address them. 

Full Poll Results: Young voters are motivated by issues

In June of 2019, we polled young Democratic Primary voters and found that they cared more about big, bold policy change than simply defeating Donald Trump. Now, the primaries are here and this issue-focus is still the driving force for young voters. 

In our latest poll with HIT Strategies, we found that 59% of young people are likely to vote to make a difference on the issues that matter to them while only 39% are likely to vote to resist the actions of Trump and Republicans. Our poll also showed that 37% of young people do not identify as either party and 66% are dissatisfied with the direction of the country.

If candidates want to authentically connect with the largest voting bloc in the electorate, they must recognize the driving force behind a large part of our generation — the issues that matter most to us. 

And while the media hypes our booming economy, that economy is not the reality for Millennials and Generation Z. 47% of survey respondents said they will be worse off financially than the previous generation. It does not come as a surprise, therefore, that the top policies for young people include reducing prescription drug costs, investing in public transportation, and offering trade certification programs in high school. 

Young people have been feeling financially squeezed. That’s why the Alliance runs our Broke AF campaign alongside our civic engagement work. Just look at Engage Miami who is fighting against predatory development and gentrification in Little Haiti. Or New Era Colorado pushing legislation to support graduates making student loan payments in their first two years out of college.

As we watch the 9th Democratic Primary Debate tonight, we will be looking for how candidates talk about the issues young voters care about – check out some of what rose to the top and join us by sharing these full poll results ahead of the debate tonight. 

New Automatic Voter Registration + Millennial Voter Report

You already know how much the Alliance loves automatic voter registration (aka AVR, fyi).

Ever since the Oregon Bus Project (now Next Up) started working on Automatic Voter Registration (aka AVR, fyi) back in 2009 – and especially since they led a coalition to pass it in 2015 – we’ve been crowing about how huge it is. We got even louder about it this year, when Chicago Votes and Providence Student Union helped win even more expansive AVR reforms in Illinois and Rhode Island. But some people just don’t believe it unless they read it in a fancy report.

So we got fancy, and got to reporting.

Today, we’re joining with our friends at the Center for American Progress and Generation Progress to publish “Millennial Voters Win With Automatic Voter Registration,” a new analysis of the impact of automatic voter registration on young people and people of color in the Oregon 2016 election.

Check it OUT: Millennials Win with Automatic Voter Registration

And after you read that, find out how to spread the campaign to your community: Automatic Voter Registration Activist Toolkit

FACT SHEET: Automatic Voter Registration Transforms Oregon Youth Registration & Turnout Rates

By Henry Kraemer |  June, 2017

Fact Sheet: Automatic Voter Registration Transforms Oregon Youth Registration & Turnout.

Also dramatically increases registration rates in communities of color.

After a half-decade of leadership and advocacy from the Bus Project (an affiliate of the Alliance for Youth Action) alongside a coalition of advocates, Oregon passed automatic voter registration in 2015. It became operational in 2016, automatically registering eligible citizens to vote, and update their registration addresses thru DMV records.

Since implementation of automatic voter registration, Oregon has seen rare growth in youth voter turnout – a full 7 percentage points higher in 2016 than 2012. Simultaneously, the state has also seen dramatic increases in registration rates in communities of color – rising by 26 percentage points between December 2015 and January 2017, the largest growth in the nation.

Based on this success, the Alliance for Youth Action has launched the Democracy Done Right campaign to empower other youth led organizations to win automatic voter registration reforms in states around the country – with the goal of replicating Oregon’s extraordinary youth turnout success in every state (previously assisting Alaska in their successful ballot measure, and currently supporting active bills in Illinois and Rhode Island). 

Voter Registration is a Major Barrier to Youth Turnout

  • Approximately half of the turnout gap between voters age 18-to-29 and voters age 30+ is due to registration.
    • In the 2012 general election, 45% of eligible voters cast ballots versus a 66% eligible turnout rate of voters over age-30, a difference of 21 percentage points. The gap in registered voter turnout between older and younger voters in 2012 was just 11 percentage points – 78% for youth and 89% for older voters.
    • In 2014, “not being registered” was the most common reason cited by 18-29-year-old non-voters for why they did not vote. In all, 55 percent of black youth, 45 percent of Latino youth, and 61 percent of white youth said this was the reason they did not cast ballots in the 2014 election.
  • According to a July 2012 CIRCLE poll of young voters, only 13% of young voters held accurate understandings about their state’s voter registration deadline – meaning a shocking 87% did not know their state’s deadline or were misinformed.
  • Americans 18-to-29 change addresses at nearly 2.5 times the annual rate of Americans 30-and-over.  Since under the current structure voters must re-register to vote every time they move, this means young people are disproportionately more likely to lose their registered voter status — often without even realizing it.

After Implementing Automatic Voter Registration, Oregon Saw Huge  Spikes in Youth Turnout, and Registration Rates for People of Color

  • Nearly Half a Million Oregonians Directly Benefited from automatic voter registration in its first year (15% of Oregon’s voting age population).
    • 225,796 voters registered for the general election through the program.
    • 264,551 voters received automatic address updates, ensuring Oregon’s all-mail ballots reached them at their current residences.
  • Over 40% of automatic voter registrants were under-30, despite being only 20% of the overall adult population – nearly 100,000 new automatic registrants were young.
    • Between the 2012 and 2016 general elections, the number of registered Oregon voters age 18-to-29 increased by more than 100,000. During the same period, the overall eligible population of that cohort grew by barely over 12,000 people.
    • After adopting automatic voter registration in January 2016 Oregon achieved 50% eligible voter turnout for all adults-under-30 in the 2016 general election – 7 percentage points higher than the 43% rate for Oregon youth in 2012.
      • A seven percentage point increase in turnout is an unusually high boost following the implementation of a single voting reform – in the November 2012 presidential election all other major voting convenience reforms combined were correlated with a 7 percentage point increase in voter turnout of eligible adults.
      • The 2016 and 2012 electoral environments were extraordinarily similar – no presence of active presidential campaigns in the state,  nor any competitive gubernatorial or senatorial statewide elections.
    • Additionally, Oregon saw the largest increase in registration rates among communities of color in the nation in 2016.
      • According to exploratory analysis done by Blue Labs, in December 2015, Oregon’s registration rate for people of color was 53%, ranking 31st in the US.
      • By January 2017, that registration rate climbed to 79%, the second highest in the nation. Over half of eligible but unregistered people of color were added to the rolls after the implementation of automatic voter registration in Oregon – the most significant improvement of any state in the union (the Blue Labs analysis focused exclusively on registration rates, and did not measure turnout).

How Automatic Voter Registration Works in Oregon

  • As of 2016, Oregon automatically registers voters exclusively through the Department of Motor Vehicles, whose driver license, learners permit, and identification card applications require all information necessary to determine eligibility to vote.
  • When an Oregonian provides their name, address, birth date, and verification of citizenship (most commonly United States birth certificates and United States passports) to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the agency securely forwards the information to the Elections Division of the Secretary of State.
  • Applicants who provide other proofs of residence are not passed through to the Secretary of State, nor are individuals with protected records due to safety risks.
  • All DMV address updates are also sent to the Department of Elections, who verifies the new information against the current records in the state voter file, and updates the voter address if it appears more up-to-date than the voter registration record.
  • Newly registered and updated voters get a postcard saying 1) they have been registered to vote through automatic voter registration, 2) they can opt-out by signing and mailing back the postcard, and 3) to vote in the state’s closed partisan primary, they need to register with a political party by returning the postcard.
  • New automatic registrants are allowed 21 days to return the postcard. Voters who do not return the card are added to the voter registration list as nonaffiliated voters.

Fact Sheet in PDF (includes citations)