“CIRCLE understands the deep impact and importance of youth vote and has created a research-based index on youth electoral significance in the top 10 states and congressional districts where youth are poised to have an exceptionally high impact in 2016,” said Noorya Hayat, a CIRCLE researcher, in an email.
While North Carolina breaks CIRCLE’s top 10 in rankings, the study found that a number of reasons, including stricter voter registration laws and higher rates of poverty in the state could negatively impact youth voter turnout.
“North Carolina still makes the top 10 because the state’s youth have historically voted very differently than older voters and have shown that they can turn out, making their votes more influential,” the survey said.
The index is based on the number of people under the age of 30 eligible to vote on a state-by-state basis.
According to a study done by the N.C. Office of State Budget and Management, the state’s population age 18 to 34 is projected to increase 16 percent between 2015 and 2035.
Hayat said in the last 2014 midterm election and the 2012 presidential election, youth voter turnout in the state was higher than the average across the U.S.
Hayat said CIRCLE, among other organizations, is working with young people to bolster young adult turnout at the polls.
Former UNC student body president candidate Wilson Sink, a UNC junior and member of Tar Heel Vote, said in the 2012 general election North Carolina had more than 50 percent of the young adult population show up to the polls.
“Every election is impactful, and the youth vote always matters,” Sink said
Katy Harriger, a political science professor at Wake Forest University, said North Carolina’s youth could be extremely impactful if their turnout is as high as that of other age groups.
“Young people also need to believe that candidates are taking them and their concerns seriously,” Harriger said.
Though the national young adult turnout in the past has been historically low, Sink said the current political race could change that.
“The media attention of presidential candidates brings people to the polls, and the attention on this primary cycle is unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” he said.
Sink said young people often feel disengaged from the process, so no one votes, even from college campuses where a large part of the electorate is composed of youth voters.
“If you want to have your voice and opinion heard, start with your constitutionally given right — vote,” he said.