Kyle Gruber



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Kyle Gruber, PSC470: Political Science Seminar
Faculty Mentor(s): Professor Patrick McGovern, Political Science and Public Administration, Professor Mehwish Sawari, Political Science and Public Administration

Since 18-year-olds obtained the right to vote in the United States in 1972, a vast turnout disparity has plagued the younger generation. This disparity has been the focus of extensive research. Studies into U.S. youth voting tend to split into two categories. The first school of thought attributes the turnout gap to youth socialization. The second school of thought focuses on institutional barriers that have been enacted by state legislatures. The focus of this research will be on the institutional barriers. Because of their having fewer resources than their older counterparts, being unfamiliar with the electoral process, and being more geographically mobile, young American voters are susceptible to being disproportionately impacted by institutional barriers to voting. This research examines the impact that state-level registration and voting barriers have on youth civic engagement, utilizing a cross-sectional time-series research design and controlling for state-level factors such as electoral competitiveness and economic status. The research data spans 16 years, collecting turnout and registration data from the 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 U.S. general elections. The research presented here suggests that youth registration and turnout percentages have been disproportionately impacted by registration and voting barriers that obstruct youth access to the ballot box.

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The Young Americans: Youth Voting in 21st-Century America
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