Excitement building for first-time voters in Pennsylvania

ByChad Pradelli and Cheryl Mettendorf via WPVI logo
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
EMBED <>More Videos

First-time voter Brandon Desper was excited to drop off his mail-in ballot at the dropbox in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

ARDMORE, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- First-time voter Brandon Desper was excited to drop off his mail-in ballot at the dropbox in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

"I knew I had to get out here and do it," he said.

The recent Lower Merion High School graduate is among a groundswell of young voters hitting the polls in recent years and notably during the Trump presidency.

Desper, 18, is among the younger generation who said he believed this election is a tipping point for change.

READ MORE: Pennsylvania is ground zero for the election litigation in 2020

"I think this makes it all the more important. It is an important time and we living through history right now. So me taking this small part and doing my job is just as important as anyone else coming out here and doing it," he said.

"I just want to make sure my vote is counted. Vote early, get it done. It was nice that I could take a picture of him for the first time voting," said his mother, Angela Desper.

According to the City of Philadelphia Commissioners Office, during the midterm elections in 2018, young voters, 18-34, turned out in droves compared to 2014 in the City of Philadelphia, up 111%.

The Action News data team also crunched the numbers. Our analysis revealed youth voter turnout across the state has basically tracked as much as 20 percentage points lower over the years than the turnout among older voters.

It peaked in Pennsylvania in 2008, President Obama's first victory, and again in 2016, two elections that ushered in huge change.

Experts say young voters are expected to show up in force again this year at the polls.

"In Philadelphia, we have a record number of voters. We haven't reached these numbers since 1984," said David Thornburgh with the government advocacy group, The Committee of Seventy.

"I gotta believe a good part of that growth is fueled by young voters," he added.

Thornburgh said he has been working with area high schools and the Mayor's Office of Youth Engagement to engage young voters in this election.

READ MORE: Nearly 9 million Pennsylvanians have registered to vote

"We've got a deeply divided electorate and that tends to bring out the competitive instinct in folks of all ages," said Thornburgh.

So far, the current voter registrations data shows 26% of voters registered for the 2020 presidential election are under the age of 35.

The county with the highest percentage of young voters is Centre County, the home to Penn State University.

READ MORE: Presidential candidates focus on Pennsylvania as battleground state