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A record number of Virginia college students are expected to participate in the Nov. 5, 2019 elections.

Nearly 11,000 students have applied for absentee ballots this year, according to the Virginia Department of Elections, more than double the number of absentee ballots received in 2015, the last time all 140 seats were up for reelection in the Virginia General Assembly.

College student voter turnout is generally lower than the statewide count. In the 2016 presidential election, for example, 54 percent of Virginia college students turned out to vote, compared to 70 percent of voters across all age groups.

While young voters are often among the least engaged, especially in a non-presidential election, turnout among 18-to-29 year olds has increased in recent years. During the 2017 gubernatorial elections, youth turnout was 34 percent, according to an analysis of exit polling by a group at the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. That’s up from 26 percent in the 2013 governor’s race and double the youth turnout in 2009.

Virginia youth voter (18-29) turnout

200920132017
17%26%34%

Increased youth engagement bodes well for Democrats. Sixty-nine percent of younger voters for Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam in 2017.

All residents (including students) have requested 66,219 applications for absentee voting this year, according to state election data.

“Using absentee voting is a good indicator of potential turnout, and if you look at previous elections and compare it to today there has been an increase in this election and overall,” Commissioner Christoper Piper told the Associated Press. The increase could be associated with higher numbers of competitive races in these elections — there are 30 this year.

Today is the last day to register to vote. Voters can register online, here. Applications for absentee ballots can be found online or by visiting the local registrar’s office.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is Oct. 29. The deadline to vote in-person absentee is Nov. 2.

More information on how to vote can be found in The Dogwood’s guide to voting.