One of the questions at the heart of the 2018 election is: Will young people, who historically don't vote in midterm elections, show up to the polls this time around? While we will have a definite answer on Tuesday, early voting spikes in the battleground states of Texas and Georgia suggests this is definitely a possibility.
Early voting has always been a tricky variable when predicting voter turnout because it's difficult to determine whether people who cast their ballots early would have gone to the polls on Election Day either way or if they are an entire class of new voters. But the numbers make it clear that young people are voting early at a rate that far outpaces what we saw at this point of the 2014 midterm election.
Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia allow early voting, some in person and others by mail, which is also known as an absentee ballot. (This year, even Taylor Swift was encouraging her fans to cast a ballot early.)
According to data collected by TargetSmart, a Democratic firm that tracks voting nationwide, early and absentee voting by people aged 18 to 30 in Texas and Georgia has increased over 400%. Both these states have races that have caught national attention. In Georgia, former former House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams is hoping to defeat Republican Brian Kemp and become the nation's first Black woman governor. In Texas, Rep. Beto O'Rourke, the Democratic party's new golden boy, is fighting to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. Other states have seen similar surges, too. In Arizona and Florida, the number of young voters who voted early increased 131% and 217% from 2014, respectively.
It's possible that young people are fired up enough to vote that they break records this midterm election. According to a new poll from Harvard Institute of Politics, 40% of the young people surveyed said the will "definitely vote" Tuesday. The same poll found that people under the age of 30 are more likely to participate this election than they were in both 2010 and 2014.
It's sounds like a cliché, but voting is the single most important thing you can do to make your voice heard in government. Therefore, we hope you're casting a ballot this Tuesday. In the words of Michelle Obama: "You wouldn't give your crazy uncle the power to post a picture to your Instagram feed, so why would you give a stranger the power to make far more important decisions in your life?"
See you at the polls, kids.