How Colorado’s youth vote will shape the midterm elections


Tis the season to break out your fall sweaters, try this new pumpkin bread recipe and make sure your voter registration is up to date! Midterm elections are in full swing, and outreach groups are working to encourage high turnout, similar to 2020. In particular, young voters are expected to have a big influence on Colorado’s election results .

Despite stereotypes that cast young voters as an erratic and unreliable voter base, Colorado’s turnout records tell a different story. The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University raises this narrative with supporting data and research. CIRCLE collects data on young voter registration and voter turnout, and uses their data to demonstrate where young voters have influence.

Collecting data on young voter engagement

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Youth disenfranchisement is a driving force behind CIRCLE’s work. Their research adds evidence to demonstrate the power of the youth vote.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about young voters: they don’t show up, they’re apathetic, they don’t really matter when it comes to elections. Having the data to show this isn’t true can help dispel some of these myths. This is important for changing narratives and culture about youth and democracy,” said Alberto Medina, Communications Team Leader at CIRCLE.

According to data from CIRCLE, young people in Colorado have some of the highest voter turnout rates in the country, ranking third in 2018 and 2020. Medina noted that Colorado’s accessible approach to running elections and providing electoral resources play an important role in youth participation. Automatic mailing of ballots to registered voters boosts youth participation in Colorado.

“One of the reasons Colorado’s youth turnout rates tend to be so good is the state’s excellent facilitative election laws, which research shows can be correlated with higher voter registration and turnout rates. higher votes among young people,” Medina said.

Your vote counts. Yes you.

Photo by Adrienne Thomas

To track and report on youth engagement and voter turnout, CIRCLE has developed the Youth Voter Importance Index (YESI). The YESI considers more than a dozen types of data to provide the most comprehensive estimate of young voter influence among the gubernatorial (governor) and congressional races.

In this year’s YESI data, Colorado’s young voters rank among the highest in the nation for the impact they will have in two major contests: Colorado House District 8 and the US Senate. Since CO-8 is a brand new district, the race should be very competitive between the main contenders. Medina noted that such a close race could be decided by youth voting.

By publishing the YESI, it is clear that Colorado voters are a strong voice in shaping the election results. CIRCLE’s YESI demonstrates the influence of young voters in Colorado’s elections. This data can be interpreted and leveraged by campaigns, advocacy groups, and individual voters looking to find meaningful ways to engage with eligible voters in the state.

“Misconceptions that young people don’t care or matter can become self-fulfilling prophecies and fuel vicious cycles that lead to disengagement; a big part of our job is to show that young people have power in our politics,” Medina said.

Expand reach

Photo of a sample ballot

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Medina noted that CIRCLE’s research is intended to serve as a tool for advocates seeking to increase voter turnout. It can be used by people seeking to convince friends or family members to participate in elections, or to inform organizations that dedicate their resources to community outreach. He pointed to the increase in the number of young people themselves working to get young people out to vote across the state.

“Young voters in Colorado need to understand that they have the power, at the ballot box and beyond. However, they must also understand that none of this is taken for granted. It depends on the work of campaigns, organizations and leaders to reach and engage young people. This includes young people themselves: in recent years, our research has seen a surge in the number of young people talking to each other about politics, doing voter registration work, volunteering for campaigns, and more. much of the engagement of young voters,” Medina said.

Regarding increasing voter turnout in Colorado, Medina noted that there is still work to be done. Young voters still face barriers to participation, which can intersect with a person’s identity and circumstances, including race, ethnicity, education, and gender identity.

“Young Coloradans can play a role here too by making sure their political outreach work isn’t just about reaching, say, a white student on a four-year college campus, but a young Latino who may be out of school and out-of-school workforce and doesn’t have a lot of institutional support to learn about elections and participate in civic life. That’s where a lot of the work needs to be done,” said Medina.


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