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Social issues motivating young voters in North Carolina

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The November midterms just are around the corner, and issues like abortion, climate change and gun control are motivating young voters.

Over the past two election cycles, North Carolina, like other parts of the country, has seen record turnouts for young voters. According to data from The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, that trend continues in 2022.

The number of 18–24-year-olds registered to vote in June of 2018 vs. June of this year grew by 15% — among the highest in the nation.

While those numbers are encouraging, the gap in turnout between midterm elections and presidential elections remains large for young people with less than a third actually casting a ballot.

Sunshine Hillygus is a professor of political science at Duke University. She says youth voters face additional headwinds as well.

“We have seen record numbers of state laws passed with voting restrictions that disproportionately hurt young people,” Hillygus said, “So, we kind of have two different things working in different directions. In some states an effort has been made to kind of overcome those voting restrictions, but much less so in other states.”

Hillygus says with those challenges in place, questions remain as to whether next month’s numbers will match 2018’s and if youth turnout will be enough to tip races in battleground states like North Carolina.