More younger people in Virginia are casting votes for 2020 election

Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 5:40 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — As we near election day, more people are gearing up to cast their vote if they haven’t already, including younger adults.

People ages 18 to 29 typically do not exercise their right to vote like older Americans, and experts say there are some reasons why.

“One might be technical barriers, so for many 18 to 29 year-olds, it may be their first time voting,” Carah Ong Whaley, Associate Director at JMU Civic, said.

Because it may be their first time, they may not know what to expect when getting to the polls, which may deter younger people from voting.

Knowing the correct identification and deadline requirements is another technical barrier younger people face, along with knowing where to show up on election day. Ong Whaley said many people within the 18 to 29-year-old demographic are college students who can choose whether to vote absentee where their permanent address is. They can also vote where their school address is, but having the choice can cause some confusion.

“If we all do the education processes, there’s a huge question of are our candidates, are the political parties, are third party organizations, are interest groups really relating to young people?” Ong Whaley said.

While these motivational barriers can also keep younger people from casting a vote, Ong Whaley said motivation is strong this year, which may make it easier to overcome the technical barriers.

“People are seeking out information more so than they would in an election that may not matter as much,” Ong Whaley said.

And with early voting options, Ong Whaley said we are already seeing a higher number of younger voters.

“In Virginia alone, 110,000, almost 111,000 young people between the ages of 18 and 29 have already cast a vote in this election,” Ong Whaley said.

That’s ten times the number of votes cast by younger people than in the 2016 election.

Ong Whaley says it’s hard to tell if that will be a trend in the future, but she said candidates should continue to pay attention to younger voters in any election.

Regardless of the election results, Ong Whaley said it’s important we work together to solve our common problems.

“It’s really important for us to be thinking about the issues that matter, to be thinking about the policies, that it’s okay to disagree,” Ong Whaley said. “Whether or not we’re in an older demographic or younger demographic, we are all facing the same challenges as a community, as a state and as a country.”

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