Faculty & Research Civilian national service programs can powerfully increase youth voter turnout Jul 13, 2022 By John HolbeinCecilia Hyunjung Mo Elizabeth Mitchell Elder Civilian national service programs can powerfully increase youth voter turnout Low rates of youth voting are a feature of contemporary democracies the world over, with the United States having some of the lowest youth turnout rates in the world. However, far too little is known about how to address the dismal rates of youth voter participation found in many advanced democracies. In this paper, we examine the causal effect of a potentially scalable solution that has attracted renewed interest today: voluntary national service programs targeted at the youth civilian population. Leveraging the large pool of young people who apply each year to participate in the Teach For America (TFA) program—a prominent voluntary national service organization in the United States that integrates college graduates into teaching roles in low-income communities for 2 y—we examine the effect of service participation on voter turnout. To do so, we match TFA administrative records to large-scale nationwide voter files and employ a fuzzy regression discontinuity design around the recommended admittance cutoff for the TFA program. We find that serving as a teacher in the Teach For America national service program has a large effect on civic participation—substantially increasing voter turnout rates among applicants admitted to the program. This effect is noticeably larger than that of previous efforts to increase youth turnout. Our results suggest that civilian national service programs targeted at young people have great promise in helping to narrow the stubborn and enduring political engagement gap between younger and older citizens. Link to Article Areas of focus Democracy Political Science John Holbein John Holbein is an associate professor of public policy, politics, and education at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. Holbein studies political participation, political inequality, democratic accountability, political representation, and education policy. Read full bio Cecilia Hyunjung Mo Elizabeth Mitchell Elder Related Content John Holbein 400 million voting records show profound racial and geographic disparities in voter turnout in the United States Research This paper documents the extent and nature of inequities in voter participation in the United States with a level of granularity and precision that previous research has not afforded. Are Americans less likely to reply to emails from Black people relative to White people? Research Although previous attempts have been made to measure everyday discrimination against African Americans, these approaches have been constrained by distinct methodological challenges. We present the results from an audit or correspondence study of a large-scale, nationally representative pool of the American public. We provide evidence that in simple day-to-day interactions, such as sending and responding to emails, the public discriminates against Black people. John Holbein Among UVA's Inaugural Shannon Fellows News Batten professor Holbein is one of 15 faculty members chosen for a new UVA fellowship program recognizing groundbreaking research and commitment to service at UVA. How gender, race, age and voter ID laws affect whether a voter actually casts a ballot News Young Americans say they are interested in politics, but few of them vote. Writing for The Conversation, Batten School professor John Holbein offers some ideas on how to encourage them.