No Evidence of Blue Wave Youth Turnout in Maryland Early Voting

At the end of the fourth day of early voting, age appears heavily correlated with participation in early voting. According to the raw data released by the State Board of Elections, here are the number of people who early voted by age cohort:

18-24: 9,588.
25-44: 41,586.
45-64: 117,992.
65 and older: 101,787
unknown: 7,818.

Looking simply at the raw numbers, the old are casting early voting ballots in massively higher numbers than the young. For example, the 45-64 cohort had 284% more voters than the 25-44 cohort. Both cover 20 year periods (i.e. one generation).

What does it look like if you consider the rate of turnout rather than absolute numbers? I used the 2015 Maryland Department of Planning population estimates to gauge the size of each cohort’s population. (It’s not perfect as it includes non-citizens but gives a rough indicator. Age is reported in five-year groups, so I estimated the 18 and 19 year olds as 40% of all people ages 15-19.)

Here are the resulting estimates of early voting turnout rates:

18-24: 1.7%
25-44: 2.7%
45-64: 7.4%
65 and older: 14.4%

If anything, I suspect that this understates age differences. Remember that among Latinos and Asian Americans, two groups with large immigrant populations, kids are far more likely to be citizens than their parents because many were born in the U.S. and are citizens and eligible voters by right. As a result, the older cohorts likely includes higher shares of non-citizens.

Some might ascribe especially low rates among 18-24 year olds due to many people this age being away at college. This may indeed depress turnout figures somewhat but turnout rates among 25-44 year olds are also very low.

The Ben Jealous campaign has argued that the polls showing Hogan leading him handily are wrong because, among other reasons, they “undercount young people” who are “energized” about voting this year. So far, the early voting data suggest that no blue wave of young voters has arrived yet.