The 2018 midterm elections broke records for voter turnout. Forty-nine percent of eligible voters showed up at the polls – over 113 million people – making this the first mid-term election to exceed 100 million voters. The record-breaking turnout was due in part to a surge in young voters. In fact, these midterm elections marked a turning point in America: it was the first time that millennial adults officially outnumbered Boomers as the largest voting-age population. Eight million youths who were not eligible to vote in the last education were legally able by these midterms. And these young voters had the numbers to change the course of the election.
The challenge was ensuring that they were actually registered, which appeared to be a huge hurdle, since volumes have been written about why younger generations don’t vote – with reasons including fear of the post office and a preference for softball games. To that end, campaigns were launched across the country to encourage newly-eligible voters to register and then actually vote. Celebrities like Taylor Swift spoke up. Tom Steyer’s NextGen America organization aimed to register 100,000 millennials in the month of September alone across college campuses during a “Welcome Week” campaign. Vote for Our Lives, organized by students from Marjorie Stoneham Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, launched a website that made it a simple for voters to register – and to help them register other new voters.
Prior to the midterm elections, we worked with Crossmedia on behalf of Headcount. Headcount, as we mentioned in a previous post, is an organization that uses music to encourage voter registration. The group organizes registration drives at concerts for popular acts and has driven more than a half-million registrations since 2004. Headcount credits its success on the powerful collaboration between musicians, promoters and volunteers, which provides access to a diverse set of potential voters.
Through our partnership with Crossmedia, Blis donated over four million targeted impressions to help support the cause. Using location intelligence, we helped Headcount reach its audience at college campuses and in states with competitive congressional races with #TheFutureIsVoting message and calls to action that led to either a registration link or directions to their nearest polling place.
We’re proud to have played a part in what has turned out to be a historic election. In the end, a good 15 percent of all voters reported that this was their first time casting a ballot. While many of these were young people, many of them were voters who simply hadn’t participated in the past and were motivated by one of the many campaigns encouraging them to do so.
Voting is important. It’s our right and our responsibility, and although we are nonpartisan at Blis, we do take civil responsibility seriously, and we’re humbled to have had even a small role in increasing voter turnout this year.