SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Voter registration in Georgia is surging. In the past year alone more than 300,000 people were added to the active voter rolls, data shows it’s a young and diverse group.
Historically, minorities and young people tend to vote blue, but a democratic candidate has never won a statewide election in Georgia since 2006. However, changing demographics show the state could be more competitive than ever.
“It’s probably a little premature to call Georgia a swing state, but I’m not so sure it’s very far from there,” said Bruce Mallard, a Political Science Professor at Savannah State University.
Across the state, Hispanic and Asian voters are growing rapidly, but they still only make up about six percent of the voting population according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
“Trump only won by five percent and in some contexts, that’s a lot of distance, but it may not be if we are looking at a shifting change in voters,” said Mallard.
The AJC reports voters aren’t just diverse but younger, the number in the 18 to 34 age group jumped 68 percent since 2016.
“Younger voters have a lot going on,” said Mallard. ‘Their mobile, their changing jobs, they’re changing residence and they vote in fewer percentages than people who are older.”
Mallard spends most of his time teaching young people about civic participation. He said diversity in democratic presidential candidates could be in part responsible for a shift in voter turnout.
“Quite a diverse group, 23 or so in the beginning and that has energized people too because it wasn’t all ‘hey pick your favorite white male,” said Mallard.
Mallard also sees 2018 midterms as another factor in the state’s shift towards being more of a battleground state.
“Some people are calling this the Stacey Abrams effect because she came so close to winning in 2018,” said Mallard. “She only lost by 1.4 percent against the sitting Secretary of State and so I think it encouraged people to get out and vote.”
Still, its important note that many of the people signed up to vote were automtically registered– when getting their driver’s license.