NextGen Maine’s Get Out The Vote Program Helps Boost Historic Turnout in Presidential Primary


Paid Staff & Fellows on the Ground: 22
Volunteers: 58
Campuses with Programs: 22
Voters Registered: 1,178
Pledge to Vote Cards Collected: 4,132
Rides to the Polls Given on Election Day: 121


PORTLAND, ME — Given Maine’s status as one of the demographically oldest states in the nation and long history as a red-leaning state, new voters turned out in strong numbers to vote in this year’s Democratic presidential primary and contributed to historic turnout statewide. There have been reports of polling places in Portland and Brunswick running out of ballots, and in Portland there were also reports of voter registration card shortages. NextGen Maine, a progressive political organization running the largest youth vote program in Maine history, is unsurprised.

“Millennial and Gen Z voters are highly aware of and invested in this election,” said Julian Snow, State Director of NextGen Maine. “Young people care deeply about affordable health care, climate change, and an economy that works for everyone. We are working to nominate a Democratic candidate who will take those issues seriously in the White House.”

Bernie Sanders, who came in a very close second in Maine, has led in early primary races and in polling of 18-35-year-old voters nationwide, indicating that young voters could be at the leading edge of selecting the Democratic nominee for president.

After 20 years of town meeting-style caucuses, Maine transitioned this year to casting ballots in a primary vote. While that makes it impossible to compare this year’s youth voter turnout to 2016’s youth caucus-goer turnout, young voters’ enthusiasm for the change is evident. Students at the University of Maine also appreciated the rides to the polls offered by NextGen from 8 AM until the polls closed at 8 PM on election day.

“Access to polls is a huge issue, and having them moved off-campus was already a barrier,” said Sarah Hammond, a fourth-year student at the University of Maine. “The convenience of joining with other students in a rides-to-the-polls program really helped.”

According to the voter rights organization Fair Fight Action, primary participation in Maine has increased 304% “and counting” this year. NextGen Maine will publish district-level youth vote and new voter turnout when those numbers become available.

NextGen Maine runs the largest youth voter mobilization program in Maine history. It is a branch of the NextGen America youth vote program, an inclusive coalition of young voters and activists in 11 battleground states with the goal of winning elections for progressive candidates. NextGen Maine aims to register 7,000 young voters in Maine and mobilize them to kick President Trump out of the White House, oust Senator Susan Collins, and defend Representative Jared Golden’s seat in ME-02.

Voters aged 18-35 are projected to account for 37% of the electorate in 2020. Since 2013, NextGen America has registered over 1.3 million voters and contacted millions of young people with messages encouraging them to vote.