A historic number of young voters are set to turn out during the pivotal Iowa caucuses next month, a new poll finds. And by participating in record numbers, the youth bloc could tilt the results heavily in favor of the leading progressive candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.
More than a third of eligible Iowa voters between the ages of 18 and 29 said they were "extremely likely" to participate during the Feb. 3 caucuses, a number that would dwarf previous turnout figures, according to researchers at Tufts University's Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement and Suffolk University.
Only an estimated 11 percent of young Iowans turned out for the 2016 caucuses, when both parties had contested primaries. In 2008 and 2012, just 4 percent of young voters participated in the country's first-in-the-nation nominating contest, the researchers said.
While most anxiety about administering the 2020 election is focused on potential hackers, officials at a conference Tuesday brought up another growing concern: huge turnout, with perhaps a record-breaking number of voters overwhelming the nation's polling sites.
Tammy Patrick, who studied the long lines for voting in 2012 on a commission named by President Barack Obama, pointed to a CNN poll last fall in which nearly half of voters said they were "extremely excited" about voting this November. That total was the highest by far for a presidential election since the network began asking the question in 2003.
If millions more than are expected cast ballots ahead of time and millions more pour into the nation's school cafeterias and firehouses on Nov. 3 — and the voting equipment and poll workers are insufficient to handle the crowds — the reliability of the presidential and other elections could be cast in doubt by waves of angry people who give up, potentially delayed tabulations and suspicions about reporting accuracy.
Organizer: The Coelho Center at LMU Loyola Law School
California has experienced a resurgence in voter turnout thanks to intersectional leaders working together to increase participation in elections. In 2018, we saw the first implementation of the Voter's Choice Act, a new law that seeks to find common solutions to break barriers to voting based on disability, limited English proficiency, economic status, racial divisions and more. Yet, as advocates successfully turn each corner on their journey to develop a fair and just election system, they still encounter roadblocks, examples of voter suppression and attempts to break their coalitions.
Join the Coelho Center to hear from leading election advocates about how they are navigating the intersecting similarities in their quest for equitable ballot access.
Location: LMU Playa Vista Campus, 2105 E Waterfront Drive, Los Angeles, CA
Add Indiana to the states with nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations trying to improve the functioning of democracy.
Indiana Citizen, which debuted last month, is the brainchild of longtime Democratic activists Bill and Ann Moreau.
Earlier in his career, Bill Moreau worked for Birch Bayh, a prominent senator from Indiana in the 1960s and 1970s. Then he served in various capacities, including chief of staff, when Bayh's son Evan was Indiana's secretary of state and then governor.
He is retiring at the end of the year as a partner in the law firm Barnes & Thornburg to focus full time on promoting the work of Indiana Citizen, which is operated by the nonpartisan, nonprofit Indiana Citizen Education Foundation Inc.
The initial goal of the group is to improve Indiana's low standing among the states when comparing voter turnout. The state ranked 43rd in voter participation in last year's election, the Census Bureau estimates, a tiny uptick after coming in 47th in the previous midterm, in 2014. In the 2016 presidential election the state ranked 41st, a drop of three places from the previous presidential year.
The ambitious goal of Indiana Citizen is to move the state into the top 10 for turnout next November.