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Secretary Benson hosts youth roundtable, releases report on Michigan youth voting turnout gaps

State data, national surveys find disparity between active registered young voters and election turnout, large gap between college and noncollege youth 

DETROIT, Mich. – Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson hosted a Michigan youth voting roundtable in Detroit today and released a new report identifying two significant voter turnout gaps among young voters in the last two elections – a gap between the number of young people who were active registered voters and those who cast a ballot; and a gap in election participation between young people with college experience and those with no college experience.
While Michigan led the nation in 2022 in voter turnout for citizens aged 18-29, Michigan Department of State data shows that nearly 60% of active registered voters in that age group did not cast a ballot in the midterm election. In 2020, the last presidential election, the turnout gap was smaller, but still shows that 38.3% of young active registered voters did not ultimately vote in that election.
The new report also highlights recent national survey data showing that 87% of U.S. voters aged 18-29 have some college experience, while 40% of people aged 18-29 have no college experience.
“In 2022, Michigan led the nation in youth voter turnout, and what this new report makes clear is we’ve still got work to do,” Secretary Benson said. “There are still too many young people in Michigan whose voices are not being heard at the ballot box. In 2024, we will work with nonpartisan partners across the state to give every eligible young voter – no matter who they vote for – the tools and information they need to fully participate in the upcoming elections. And we encourage everyone in our state to be a part of this outreach to help us ensure that all eligible citizens are aware of their options to vote this year and beyond.”
In addition to the statewide data, Michigan's Youth Vote: Closing the Turnout Gaps includes county-by-county data on active registered voters vs. ballots cast for both the 2022 and 2020 elections.

  • Counties with the smallest gap between active registered young voters and actual young voters in 2022 were: Washtenaw (43.7% not voting), Ottawa (49.8%), Clinton (49.8%), Livingston (50.2%), and Oakland (51%). Counties with the largest gap in 2022 were: Luce (75.6%), Lake (75.6%), Oscoda (74.8%), Menominee (74.7%) and Iron (74.3%).
  • Counties with the smallest gap between active registered young voters and actual young voters in 2020 were: Livingston (26.9% not voting), Oakland (27.5%), Keweenaw (29.7%), Leelanau (30%), and Clinton (30.1%). Counties with the largest gap in 2020 were: Lake (69%), St. Joseph (52.9%), Roscommon (52.8%), Oscoda (52.1%), and Iosco (51.7%). 

The full report is available online.
At today’s youth roundtable, Secretary Benson met with representatives of nonpartisan organizations to better understand what barriers prevent young Michigan citizens from participating in elections and consider strategies to break down those barriers. Participants at the roundtable included the Michigan Department of State Collegiate Student Advisory Task Force, NAACP Detroit, League of Women Voters, and APIA Vote.
“Young people are an incredibly important part of our electorate and can have an enormous impact on local, state, and national policy,” said Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. “Voting is more accessible in Michigan than ever before, and it’s on all of us to meet young people where they are so they know all of the ways they can make their voice heard. This portion of the electorate is civically engaged and will be key to defining the future of our democracy.”
“Having a voice and a vote is an essential part of what defines us as Americans,” said Angelique Power, President & CEO of The Skillman Foundation. “Every home, business, place of worship, institution, and school should not only be encouraging young people to cast a vote but should be actively sharing the new ways Michigan has made it easy to register, vote, volunteer, and more.”
“We are excited about engaging our youth and young adults on why we need them to vote for this election and beyond," said LaToya Henry, Advisor, NAACP Detroit Youth Council. "That’s why the work we do to educate and mobilize voters is so important.  From early on, we want them to see and understand that their vote today has the ability to shape their power for tomorrow."
For more information about Michigan’s elections, including how to register, applying for an absentee ballot, and new early voting options across the state, visit

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Participants at Michigan youth voting roundtable with Secretary Benson

Participants at today's Michigan youth voting roundtable and Secretary Benson discussed ways to overcome barriers for eligible voters aged 18-24. 

Secretary Benson gave a presentation

Secretary Benson gave a presentation on youth voter engagement and education at today's roundtable in Detroit. 

Leaders and representatives of nonpartisan organizations working to engage youth voters

Leaders and representatives of nonpartisan organizations working to engage and empower youth voters in Michigan met today in Detroit. 

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