Without going overboard, I need to brag on American voters, especially in Minnesota, especially young ones. (OK, maybe I’m about to go overboard.)
In the most recent election, Minnesota (and it often has) led the nation in voter participation rates. That’s old news, but I’m passing along below, via MPR, an analysis of those numbers by group.
I have often argued (nagged? mourned?) that, despite our oft-self-proclaimed role as the leader of democracies in the world, U.S. voter participation rates are among the lowest, except when we are the lowest. Even in presidential elections, we seldom hit 60 percent turnout, and in midterm a good year is 40. That’s pitiful. And when you break it down by group, young voters always turn in terrible turnout numbers.
So, back to the bragging. In 2018, Minnesota, as it often does, led the nation in turnout with a 64 percent participation. (Again, that wouldn’t be great in many other countries, but the national norm in our country for midterms is around 40 percent. But that’s still old news.)
But the most impressive and hope-for-the-future-ish number was the turnout of the youngest voters, those aged 18-29, which reached 39.6 percent participation, according to the analysis released by Secretary of State Steve Simon. In national or historical context, this is huge and inspiring and hope for the future.
If 39.6 doesn’t strike you as all that big, it was up from 21.3 in the last (2014) national midterm election. And the youngest of the youngest voters, those aged 18-19, turned out at a 37 percent rate! It’s too soon to say anything about the future but, in general, once people register and start voting they mostly keep voting.
By the way, in case I’m bragging too much on just our young voters, Minnesotans age 50-59 turned out at a 60-plus percent rate and those in the 65-79 age group broke 80 percent! In the midterm.
I love this state, youngsters and oldsters. And Simon deserves praise for what he does to keep our system of access to the ballot at the top of the pack.