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Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

CIRCLE, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement, focuses on young people in the United States, especially those who are marginalized or disadvantaged in political life. CIRCLE's scholarly research informs policy and practice for healthier youth development and a better democracy.

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Building a Better Democracy Through Civic Education

Organizer: Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

The past 20 years have highlighted many promising practices in how states and communities can support schools to ensure they prepare more and more diverse young people for democracy and civic life.

The Boston Foundation and Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tisch College invite you to join in a conversation on evidence-based lessons on how to prepare young people to thrive in civic life.

In this webinar, we will share evidence-based research on how we can prepare young people to be active citizens. We will share lessons on how our pioneering research has shaped the civic education field and centered equitable democracy, including through evaluation partnerships on state civic education policy in Florida and Illinois, and most recently through cutting-edge research in Massachusetts.

Location: Webinar

Andy Manis/Getty Images

Record voter turnout included a doubling in the number of mail-in ballots, including this stack being counted in a school gym in Sun Prairie, Wis.

Plenty of warnings in the turnout numbers, even though voting surged

To quote the great 1970s power ballad: Two out of three ain't bad.

That Meat Loaf gold record provides a good summation for the record-breaking turnout in the presidential election: It looks like almost exactly two out of every three eligible Americans voted.

That's an estimated 159.4 million adult citizens, 20.5 million more than the previous high four years ago. And it's the strongest turnout rate since 1900 — when, by the way, women still did not have the franchise and most Black citizens and other people of color were effectively blocked from the ballot box.

Why the "ain't bad" summary, then? Because the total nonetheless means nearly 80 million people who had the right to vote decided not to. Because this year does not change how the United States still ranks near the bottom of the world's developed democracies when it comes to election participation. And because while the youth vote increased significantly, half of the population younger than 30 still did not go to the polls for a presidential election highly consequential to their future.

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Photo courtesy RepresentUs

Young and determined: Early youth vote surges in 2020

Stunning early vote totals continue to resonate as we inch closer to Election Day. As of Oct. 23, more than 5 million 18- to 29-year-olds had already voted in the 2020 elections, based on data from Catalist. More than 3 million of those early votes were cast in 14 battleground states.

Of course, the pandemic gives a number of reasons to vote early or by mail, like less social contact. And many states have made mail-in voting easier.

But those factors alone cannot explain the surges we are seeing in at least two states, Texas and Georgia, where the early in-person voting line has been eight hours long at times. There is a huge increase in Colorado, where all registered voters have automatically received mail-in ballots for years. Nothing seems to stop younger voters' determination to choose the leaders they want this year. Youth have been predicted to make a significant impact on the outcome of the election in these swing states. Early vote figures seem to confirm that prediction.

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