Making Young Voters: Policy Reforms to Increase Youth Turnout (2017-2018)

Voter turnout among young Americans is dismal—typically 20-30 percentage points lower than among older citizens. Low levels of voter turnout among young people may not reflect a lack of civic-mindedness, but rather may be the consequence of a combination of institutional and motivational obstacles that get in the way of people participating in politics.

This Bass Connections project team leveraged an existing partnership with the Wake County Public School System that developed student surveys about school engagement, noncognitive skills and civic attitudes and behaviors that have been matched to school administrative records. Team members continued the collection and analysis of these longitudinal student data, created and analyzed a national database of state-level civic education and electoral policies, matched Wake County student data to voter registration records and developed a randomized intervention for the 2018 midterm election.


Summer 2017 – Spring 2018

Team Outcomes

Sunshine Hillygus, John Holbein and Matthew Lenard, Making Young Voters: Policy Reforms to Increase Youth Turnout ($335,690 grant awarded from the National Science Foundation’s Political Science Program, 2017-2019)

Jerry Reiter and Sunshine Hillygus, Leveraging Auxiliary Information on Marginal Distributions for Survey Nonresponse ($300,000 grant awarded from the National Science Foundation’s Methodology, Measurement and Statistics Program, 2017-2019)

Making Young Voters: Policy Reforms to Increase Youth Voter Turnout (talk by Noah Eckberg and James Wang), EHDx, April 19, 2018

Making Young Voters: Policy Reforms to Increase Youth Voter Turnout (poster by Sarah Ali, Samuel Ditesheim, Noah Eckberg, Donghun Lee, James Chenyang Wang, Sakiko Nishida), presented at Bass Connections Showcase, April 18, 2018, and EHDx, April 19, 2018

Project team website

This Team in the News

Sunshine Hillygus Awarded Two Large National Science Foundation Grants

This project team was originally part of the Education & Human Development theme of Bass Connections, which ended in 2022. See related team, Making Young Voters: Policy Reforms to Increase Youth Turnout (2018-2019).

Team Leaders

  • Kyle Endres, University of Northern Iowa
  • Christina Gibson-Davis, Sanford School of Public Policy
  • Sunshine Hillygus, Arts & Sciences-Political Science

/graduate Team Members

  • Jesse Lopez, Political Science-PHD, Political Science-AM

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Sarah Ali, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Samuel Ditesheim, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Noah Eckberg, Political Science (AB)
  • Donghun (Louis) Lee, Mathematics (BS)
  • Sachit Menon, Mathematics (BS)
  • Sakiko Nishida, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Sarah Sibley, Statistical Science (BS)
  • James (Chenyang) Wang, Statistical Science (BS)

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Wake County Public School System