Survey Finds Only One in Four Eligible West Po Seniors are Registered to Vote


With the upcoming election just days away, a recent survey conducted among seniors at West Po found just 23.1% of eligible seniors have registered to vote, a result consistent with historical turnout trends among young adults.

The survey also found that 25% of seniors registered to vote are planning to vote. While this number may seem low, it is not too surprising given voting trends in recent years across the country and at West Po. Last year’s survey found that 34.7% of eligible seniors were registered to vote, and 38.4% of those eligible voters planned to vote, so this year’s numbers are slightly lower than last year. Nationwide, the numbers are similar for young adults aged 18-29. In 2016, 43.4% of these voters voted, and in 2018, 32.6% of them cast a ballot according to the US Elections Project. This age demographic typically has the lowest turnout, with turnout increasing as the age ranges get older. For adults over 60, turnout was over 70% in 2016, and nearly two-thirds of this group voted in 2018. 

When asked about the importance of voting, Junior Michael Weinraub responded, “[Voting] determines the future of your country and state. Voting is important so you can improve the country. Voting can definitely affect your rights.”

Senior Addison Stengler also believes voting is extremely important. When she was told about the low percentage of West Po students who plan to vote, she responded saying, “That’s just actually really upsetting to me that people don’t care enough to do research and figure out what will help a lot of people.” She says everyone should get educated on the issues and make an educated vote that can help everyone. 

While youth voting turnout has historically been low, one poll suggests this election year could be different. According to a poll conducted by the Harvard Public Opinion Project in October, 63% of respondents aged 18-29 said they would definitely be voting this year, which is up from 47% in 2016. This is the highest percentage of respondents saying they will vote in this poll’s 20 year history. A high turnout of young voters would likely have a significant effect on the election as Democratic candidate Joe Biden leads this age group 63%-25% over incumbent Republican candidate Donald Trump, according to the poll.

When Stengler was asked to try to explain why not many young people vote, she answered, “It’s just added stress figuring out who you have to vote for. So I think people are just overwhelmed and they just don’t see the point yet.”

One factor contributing to the potential increase in youth turnout this election is early voting. Many states across the country, including Virginia, are allowing no-excuse absentee voting, allowing more flexibility in voting options. In Virginia, 223,000 ballots have been cast by voters aged 18-29 as of October 23, which is a huge spike from the 33,700 total early votes cast by youth voters in 2016. Additionally, 333,100 ballots have been requested by youth voters this year, up from 77,100 in 2016. Early voting by youth voters is spiking across the country in key states as well, according to CIRCLE (data available in Maine, Iowa, Montana, Colorado, Minnesota, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, Texas, North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia). Texas leads the pack of key states with over 750,000 ballots cast by youth voters through October 23, while Florida takes the second spot with over 400,000 votes cast by young voters. Out of the key states, Virginia is ranked 5th in number of early votes cast by young voters.