MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - After more than 200,000 early votes in Shelby County in a week and a half, election officials said young voters have not been showing up. About 16 percent of eligible voters between 18 and 27 have voted.
The headlines have been about voter enthusiasm since early voting began in Shelby County. One election commissioner said some data analysis shows just who is voting early and how high or low that enthusiasm really is.
“If we pace the way people are voting, we will break records,” Shelby County Election Commissioner Bennie Smith said. “But if you look at the data, it’s not as record-breaking as you would think.”
Long lines and hard numbers, nearly 27,000 voters on the first day of early voting, may show more voters are coming out. Shelby County Election Commissioner and self-proclaimed ‘data junkie’ Smith said so far those voting are people who have always voted. They’re just showing up earlier.
“Is that indicative of new enthusiasm when they were already coming,” Smith said.
Most of the voters are over 50 years old. Shelby County Administrator of Elections Linda Phillips said only 16 percent of the nearly 90,000 voters between 18 and 27 have voted compared to 48 percent of the nearly 100,000 voters between 58 and 67 years old.
“Traditionally younger voters just don’t come out,” Phillips said.
“Certainly Democrats want to see voter turnout among younger voters,” WMC Political Analyst Michael Nelson said.
Nelson said even in red states, polls show voters 18 to 27 are most likely to vote for Joe Biden.
Historically, young voter turnout has been low in Shelby County.
“People over 50 decide 70 to 80 percent of the elections here,” Smith said.