Decision 2020

‘Too Much at Stake': Young People More Passionate About Voting This Year

A study from the Tufts University Tisch College of Civic Life shows a significant increase in activism among young voters in the 2020 election.

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Young people are notorious for not voting. But a group of Boston-area college students thinks there's a way to change that.

"I think one way to do that is to give an academic holiday," said Boston College student Dennis Wieboldt.

Wieboldt is BC's student representative for Boston Intercollegiate Government, the group working toward making election day an academic holiday.

"In addition to helping undergraduates to vote, this also helps faculty, staff and graduate students who might have work or school commitments otherwise," said Wieboldt.

Administrators from several of the schools have already said it is unlikely to happen this year. But the effort on the part of students is just one example of the increased activism among youth voters this year, as quantified in a new study from the Tufts University Tisch College of Civic Life.

The study shows 50% of youth say they've already tried to convince others to vote, up from 33% just two years ago. Twenty-five percent say they have helped register voters, up from 11%. And 29% have donated money to a campaign, up from 6%.

Youth voters strongly prefer former Vice President Joe Biden over President Donald Trump, by a margin of 58% to 24%, according to the study.

The Decency Project is a digital movement founded by two college roommates, Hugh Jones and Adam Cooper.

"We became a super PAC, did some fundraising and we've now got our ads running on social media, highly targeted, aiming at youth in Pennsylvania Michigan and Wisconsin right now," said Jones, a Wayland native.

Jones and Cooper are political science students at the University of Virginian. They are passionate about electing Biden.

"Questions about honesty, questions about decency are on this ballot," Cooper said. "We couldn't stand by and sit this one out. There was just too much at stake."

The Tufts study shows climate change, racism and affordable health care are the biggest issues driving young people to vote.

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