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National surge of younger voters linked to Parkland shooting

A state-by-state analysis shows more younger voters are showing up in key battleground races.

By
Susan McFarland
Demonstrators walk in the March for Our Lives rally on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., on March 24. Data show younger adults have contributed to a surge in voter registrations nationwide since the shooting attack at a South Florida high school. File Photo by Mark Wallheiser /UPI
Demonstrators walk in the March for Our Lives rally on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., on March 24. Data show younger adults have contributed to a surge in voter registrations nationwide since the shooting attack at a South Florida high school. File Photo by Mark Wallheiser /UPI | License Photo

July 20 (UPI) -- Voter registration among younger adults has risen sharply across the United States since the shooting attack at a South Florida high school in February, election statistics show.

A new analysis shows registration among voters aged 18-29 significantly increased in multiple key battleground states over the past seven months, possibly foretelling a Democratic boost come November.

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Data firm TargetSmart said it analyzed statistics in 39 states with available data and used Feb. 14 -- the day of the school shooting attack in Parkland, Fla. -- as a reference point. The assault, which killed 17, spurred a national movement for gun control and included large numbers of young voters.

TargetSmart said registration among voters 18-29 increased nationally by more than 2 percent, signifying a younger turnout is on the rise.

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In Florida in December, young adults accounted for 26 percent of all new registrations in the state. After the shooting, that share climbed to 34 percent -- an increase of nearly 28,000 new voters. By the end of April, nearly 40,000 had registered, a hike of 41 percent.

The trend isn't limited to Florida. A state-by-state analysis shows more younger voters are showing up in key battleground races.

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Pennsylvania, which has races for the U.S. Senate, House and for governor, saw youth voter registration surge more than 16 points after Parkland -- from 45 to 61 percent.

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Other states showed similar increases -- New York had a 10.7-point hike, Virginia 10.5 points, Indiana 9.9 points and Arizona 8.2 points.

In Nevada, youth registrants climbed from 32 to 39 percent after Parkland -- and young registrations in Rhode Island surged 11 percent. Conversely, the state with the largest drop in younger registrations was West Virginia, down 12 percent after the shooting in mid-February.

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The surging numbers appear to reflect a drive launched last month by Parkland students -- called "March for Our Lives: Road to Change" -- to travel across the United States and urge young voters to register.

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"At the end of the day, we can turn the tide," Houston student Kelly Choi said at a rally this month. "We can make a change."

"I'm also going to be going to D.C. a lot to lobby. And I'm going to be traveling way more than I ever have in my life -- to try to fix this issue," Parkland student-turned-activist David Hogg said.

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The registration trend aligns with a poll by the Harvard Institute of Politics after the Parkland shooting that found 64 percent of those 18-29 favor common sense gun reforms. The figure represented a 15 percent rise over a 2013 survey taken in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School attack.

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