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Youth vote a force to reckon with in key battleground states in 2020 presidential election

By Erin Tiernan, Boston Herald

Participation in this year’s presidential election is on the rise among young voters ages 18-29 and one study concludes the cohort could play a major part in 14 key states that may decide the presidency and control of the United States Senate.

“As of Oct. 21, more than 3 million young people have already cast ballots, including over 2 million in more than a dozen key states like the electoral battlegrounds where our Youth Electoral Significance Index highlights that youth can have a decisive impact on results,” the report by Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civil Learning and Engagement found.

The report shows big gains in the youth vote already over 2016 when just 39% of eligible young people cast ballots.

In the last presidential election, young voters tended to favor Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton over President Trump with a margin of 55% to 37%. There were significant differences in vote choice by race. For example, 48% of white youth voted for Trump and 43% for Clinton, while 83% of Black youth voted for Clinton compared with just 9% who voted for Trump.

In Texas, which is emerging as a presidential battleground and setting early voting records, nearly 500,000 voters between ages 18 and 29 had cast their ballots as of Oct. 21. There is no 2016 data to compare the turnout to among young voters in Texas to.

Florida came in a distant second so far, where 257,720 young voters had already participated compared with 44,000 as of the same date in 2016. In North Carolina, 204,986 young voters have voted compared to 25,150 in 2016. In Virginia, 178,496 young voters have cast ballots compared to 23,152 in the last presidential election. In Georgia 170,282 have voted compared to 32,960 in the last election. In Michigan 145,201 have voted compared to 7,572. In Minnesota 117,644 have voted compared to 9,531. In Pennsylvania 114,760 have voted. Pennsylvania did not collect data in 2016.

Youth voter registration rates are also on the rise in many states, the study found.

The study did not include information on Massachusetts voters, but the state is on track to see record voter participation across the board, Secretary of State William Galvin has said.

As of Sunday afternoon, more than 1.6 million Massachusetts voters had voted by mail or early in-person.

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