How to Increase Voter Turnout:
Broadband’s Surprising Impact

voting booths

On November 8, Americans will have the chance to cast their votes in the 2022 midterm election. Occurring midway through a president’s term, midterm elections provide us the opportunity to vote for members of Congress as well as state and local representatives. 

Even though midterm elections can determine the fate of key political issues, they have historically low voter participation compared with presidential elections. The question of how to increase voter turnout has troubled policymakers for years, with suggestions ranging from making election day a federal holiday to providing paid time off to vote. But according to a recent study, there is another, less obvious way to boost voter turnout: expanding broadband access to more Americans.

The connection between broadband and voter turnout

According to a recent study authored by researchers from Harvard Law School, the University of Virginia School of Law, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the correlation between internet access and voting is a very real phenomenon. 

The study found that:

“Internet use was positively related to voter turnout in both the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 midterm election. In both these instances, an internet user was more likely to vote than a non-user.”

Access to a wired broadband connection at home was positively related to voter turnout in the 2018 midterm elections. 

“The type of device used to access the Internet seemed have an impact on whether someone voted in 2016 or 2018. While access to a personal computer (PC) or tablet was associated with higher levels of voter participation, there was no meaningful relationship found between smartphone use and voting. According to the study’s authors, this finding supports a general theory that it is easier to access information and stay politically engaged through a computer or tablet as opposed to a smartphone.”

Expanding broadband access to increase voter turnout 

The study’s findings underscore the importance of expanding access to high-speed internet, as well as reiterate the significance of programs – such as the Affordable Connectivity Program – that make owning a computer or tablet more affordable.

The authors of the study also argue that improving Internet access among underserved groups has the potential to increase voter turnout precisely where it is most needed: among those who tend to have the least access to quality broadband. 

“Greater voter turnout is in the interest of all Americans, for it is in the interest of democracy itself. By prioritizing better Internet access, policymakers could strengthen our political institutions by ensuring robust participation in the voting process.”

Dedicated to the Cause

One of our missions at Beyond is to connect all Americans – whether it be through broadband or entertainment. In 2022, we’re taking it a step further and launching VOTE 2022: a website with everything you need to know to participate in this year’s midterm elections. On VOTE 2022, you can register to vote or confirm your registration, find out more about the candidates and elected officials in your area, and get all the information you need about polling places, absentee ballots, election rules, and more. 

Get involved and make sure you’re all set for the midterm elections by visiting VOTE 2022 today.