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Young New York City voters went to the polls in 2020 election, analysis finds

Young voters had the highest increase in voter turnout in last year’s election compared to previous presidential election years, according to a report published by the city last week.

The 2020-2021 Voter Analysis Report, which analyzes the 2020 election year and makes policy recommendations based off of its findings, found that voters ages 18 to 29 increased their voter turnout in the 2020 elections by 3.4% compared to 2016. That is the highest increase in turnout of any age group in the city and a statistic that NYC Votes, the nonpartisan voter engagement initiative by the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) and its Voter Assistance Advisory Committee that published the report, said they plan to capitalize on. 

 “Our mission is to turn the youth who voted last year into permanent, lifelong voters by getting them to the polls this year. We know turnout drops in municipal elections and youth turnout has been a persistent challenge, especially in local elections,” said Omar Suarez, the CFB’s Director of Partnerships and Outreach. “We plan to capitalize on 2020’s encouraging turnout by giving young voters everything they need to vote in the city’s elections and become habitual voters in 2021.”

On the whole, more New Yorkers went to the polls last year than in previous presidential election years despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the report found. Voter turnout increased by 1.6% from 2016 to 2020 to 61.9% despite restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In-person early voting and mail-in absentee voting also played a large role in turn out, the report found. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, absentee mail-in voting was available to everyone for the first time in the city’s history. Nearly 40% of voters voted absentee in the primary and general elections. Meanwhile, 36.3% of people cast their ballots early in the general election, around 4.5 times the amount of voters that voted early in the 2019 election.

The report also includes legislative recommendations. Based on the findings, NYC Votes recommended changes to data transparency and how the elections are administered, to voter registration and alternative forms of voting such as absentee and early voting, and they suggested ways in which the city could expand access to the polls for people with disabilities and with limited English language skills. 

To read the report and its recommendations, and to see the interactive map that goes with it that shows voter turnout by neighborhood, go to the CFB’s website

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