Making Young Voters: Policy Reforms to Increase Youth Turnout (2018-2019)

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. In order to address these obstacles, researchers and policymakers from multiple fields must evaluate the effects of policy reforms that seek to reduce or eliminate the problem of low youth turnout from two complementary directions—one within the education system and one related to election administration.

This Bass Connections project explored and evaluated the potential education and electoral policies necessary to promote youth civic engagement. Building on the work of the 2017-18 team, the 2018-19 team analyzed civic education through a comprehensive evaluation of its downstream effects on youth turnout by leveraging longitudinal student surveys, school administrative records and voter registration files, and by testing the effects of voter registration and mobilization interventions developed by the team. 

Additionally, the team evaluated a broad set of policy reforms, developing a framework for understanding why some electoral reforms work to mobilize young citizens, while others fall short. This work will help reconcile often-conflicting results in the growing election sciences literature.


Summer 2018 – Spring 2019


Carlee Goldberg

Team Outputs

Making Young Voters: Policy Reforms to Increase Youth Voter Turnout (poster by Noah Eckberg, Carlee Goldberg, Sakiko Nishida, Ketan Gupta, Emily Ahlers, Lindsay Campbell, Eli Weed, Matthew Mizota, presented at EHDx, Duke University, April 9, 2019, and at Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 17, 2019)

Making Young Voters: Policy Reforms to Increase Youth Turnout (talk by Emily Ahlers and Carlee Goldberg, EHDx, Duke University, April 9, 2019)

John B. Holbein, D. Sunshine Hillygus, Matthew A. Lenard, Christina Gibson-Davis, Darryl V. Hill. 2018. The Development of Students’ Engagement in School, Community and Democracy. British Journal of Political Science.

John B. Holbein, D. Sunshine Hillygus. 2020. Making Young Voters: Converting Civic Attitudes into Civic Action. Cambridge University Press.

This Team in the News

Senior Spotlight: Reflections from the Class of 2022

Duke University Junior Named a Truman Scholar

2020 Pathways of Change Fellows Announced

Bass Connections: Carlee Goldberg ’22, Making Young Voters: Policy Reforms to Increase Youth Turnout

Hart Student Carlee Goldberg Reflects on Youth Voting Project with Bass Connections

Developing the Political Citizen

POLIS at Duke: Episode 1.19 — Sarah Ali ’20

Why So Many Young People Don’t Vote

Why Don’t More Young People Vote?

This project team was originally part of the Education & Human Development theme of Bass Connections, which ended in 2022. See related teams, Developing the Political Citizen: Uncovering the Origins of Political Attitudes and Opinions (2019-2020) and Making Young Voters: Policy Reforms to Increase Youth Turnout (2017-2018).

making young voters team picture

Team Leaders

  • Kyle Endres, University of Northern Iowa
  • Sunshine Hillygus, Arts & Sciences-Political Science

/graduate Team Members

  • Hannah Bartlebaugh, Masters of Public Policy
  • Edgar Cook II, Political Science-PHD
  • Brian Guay, Political Science-AM, Political Science-PHD

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Emily Ahlers, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Lindsay Campbell, GCS in Literature Program (AB)
  • Samuel Ditesheim, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Noah Eckberg, Political Science (AB)
  • Weed Eli, Political Science (AB)
  • Ryan Geitner, Political Science (AB)
  • Carlee Goldberg, Political Science (AB)
  • Ketan Gupta, Political Science (AB)
  • Matthew Mizota, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Sakiko Nishida, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Anshul Shah, Computer Science (BS)

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Wake County Public School System