In a study by the United State Census Bureau, 46.1 percent of 18 to 29 year olds turned out to vote in 2016, a smaller percentage than the next youngest age group, 30 to 44, at 58.7 percent.
Tom Steyer, a businessman and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, worked to combat this statistic with an organization he founded — NextGen America.
NextGen America is an environmental advocacy nonprofit and “progressive political action committee.”
Steyer said this is a “youth-generated movement” working to improve youth voter turnout. According to its website, it has been working to improve turnout in multiple states, including Iowa.
At Iowa State, where NextGen has been active, the voter turnout rate jumped significantly between the 2014 and 2018 midterm elections — a trend seen at other universities in the United States.
Steyer said he worked to increase voter turnout with NextGen through knocking on doors in order to get people out to vote.
“15 million doors were knocked on in 2016," Steyer said.
These efforts by NextGen, along with Steyer’s efforts, have led directly to an increase in just more than one million new people registered to vote.
“Honestly, due to the work we do, it went up,” Steyer said.
This issue is important because “Republicans are desperate to win,” as a loss would lead to their inability to control the electoral process, Steyer said.
“Losing may ruin the country in many ways,” Steyer said, in regards to his own Democratic party.
The way to help ensure a win is by making sure the younger generation has a say on those who are in office, Steyer said.
“If young people don’t vote then literally their voices won’t count,” Steyer said.
The presidential debates may display some negativity between candidates, as there are a lot of issues of importance, adding youth voters should still be involved, Steyer said.
“There is a ton to fight for,” Steyer said. “Our future is incredibly bright.”
Steyer has run a campaign with a heavy focus on the early-voting primary states, spending millions of dollars on advertisements in them. These states are Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, the only states permitted by the Democratic National Committee to hold their caucus and primary elections before March without being in violation of the body's rules. In the most recent Morning Consult poll of these states, Steyer is in sixth place, with 6 percent support.
Local elections are scheduled for next Tuesday, the next point youth voters will have the chance to participate in the political process.