’18 election saw surge in young, early voters up in ’18 election

December 19, 2018 GMT

Teton County voter turnout increased about 63 percent from 2014 to 2018, and early and absentee voting went up substantially.

Brian Harnisch, a senior research scientist at the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center, said he was “intrigued by the overall increase in absentee voting, and the high ratios for the youngest and oldest groups.”

Almost two-thirds of voters age 18 to 24 voted early or by absentee ballot, and 71 percent of voters age 65 and older also voted early or absentee. They did so at substantially higher rates than in 2014, when those groups voted absentee at rates of 43 percent and 52.9 percent, respectively.

Wyoming as a whole saw 74 percent turnout in 2018, which is pretty standard for a midterm general election but still represents an increase from 65 percent turnout statewide in the 2014 midterm election, according to the Wyoming secretary of state’s office.

While older people almost always outvote the young, young voters in Teton County did step it up in the 2018 general election.

About 281 voters age 18 to 24 cast ballots in the 2018 general election, compared with only 100 voters in the 2014 general election.

Young voters also cast more ballots in the 2018 general election than in the 2018 primary, when only 143 people age 18 to 24 cast ballots.

Of all the age groups, young voters’ turnout saw the biggest increase over 2014. Voters age 18 to 24 cast 181 percent more ballots and voters age 25 to 34 cast 85 percent more ballots compared with the 2014 general election. In comparison, voters age 50 to 64 cast only 22 percent more ballots, and voters age 65 and older cast 42 percent more ballots.

The “youth wave” matches up with national trends. Turnout among voters age 18 to 29 increased 188 percent from 2014, The Atlantic reported in November.

Republicans and Democrats turned out at almost identical rates in 2018: 80 percent of registered Democrats and 78 percent of Republicans showed up to the polls. That amounted to 3,924 Democrats and 4,784 Republicans voting.

Interestingly, an extra 860 registered Republicans weren’t enough to stop a “blue wave” that carried almost all Democratic candidates to victory in Teton County. Only one Republican, Mark Barron, the well-known former Jackson mayor of 12 years, was elected.

And although almost all men in contested races against women candidates ultimately won races in Teton County, women and men turned out at almost exactly the same rate: about 75 percent. And 45 percent more women voted and 45 percent more men voted in 2018 compared with 2014.

It’s important to remember that turnout data is based on how many people cast a ballot out of all the people who registered to vote. It’s not based on the total voting age population.

For example, while registered voter turnout reached 74 percent, the secretary of state’s office estimated that in 2018 only 46.4 percent of the total voting age population voted. That’s still up from 2014, when about 38.5 percent of the total voting age population voted.

The official election results generated by Teton County show 11,852 votes cast, amounting to an impressive 80.1 percent total turnout.

However, the report that the Teton County Clerk’s office generated breaking down voters’ demographic data — like party affilication, age and sex — reported only 10,571 voters, due to a flaw in the software, clerks said. That means about 1,281 voters are missing from the demographic report, but the clerks’ office said the results should still accurately illustrate major trends.

A statewide report on the demographics of 2018 voters statewide is not yet available, secretary of state spokesman Will Dinneen said.