CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

Distinguished, Nonpartisan Commission Announced to Study and Inform Policies on Youth Voting

November 28th, 2012
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Commission on Youth Voting & Civic Knowledge Focused on “Wide Range” of Influences, Including State Voting Laws, Civic Education Policies

Tisch College, Tufts University, Medford/Somerville, MACIRCLE, Tufts University’s premiere center for the study of youth engagement, announced this morning the formation of the distinguished, nonpartisan and scholarly, Commission on Youth Voting & Civic Knowledge, which will be charged with investigating exclusive data – much of it collected during and immediately after the recent 2012 elections — with regard to the civic knowledge, voting behavior, and beliefs of young Americans ages 29 and under.  Following a rigorous investigation, the diverse, bipartisan group of scholars and experts from across the country will release a report in the Spring of 2013 outlining their recommendations on how to strengthen both the civic knowledge and participation of young Americans.

A full list of commission members, information about the commission, and updates on its work and progress can be found online, here.

Commissioner Trey Grayson, Director of the Harvard Institute of Politics and a former Kentucky Secretary of State, said, “I’m excited about the commission. Too often we talk about issues such as voting and civic education without the data necessary to draw the right conclusions.  I look forward to serving.”

Spencer Foundation President Michael S. McPherson said, “The policy choices our nation makes in coming years will affect profoundly the lives and fortunes of today’s young people. Helping them to become active and effective participants in shaping their and our common future is a profoundly important challenge. We are proud to help support this commission, which we expect will do much to help us learn how to address that challenge.”

The Commission on Youth Voting & Civic Knowledge, announced today by CIRCLE, was formed in response to controversies about recent voting laws (for instance, the new state photo ID laws) as well as debates about civic education in schools and colleges. It will, however, take a broader view, considering a wide range of potential influences on political knowledge and engagement. The commission begins with no position on the existing or proposed policies; its deliberations will be heavily influenced by new data collected during and immediately after the 2012 election.

The Commission is funded by the Spencer Foundation, the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the Youth Engagement Fund, the W.T. Grant Foundation, and the Chicago Community Trust and will be under the leadership of CIRCLE director Peter Levine and staffed by CIRCLE’s team of researchers and analysts. The grants will support scholarly research to aid the work of the commission in the following ways:

  • Conducting an ambitious, free-standing national youth survey to investigate the effects of state policies on informed youth voting;
  • Analyzing two waves of a national longitudinal survey of young adults, with a specific focus on the 2012 voting experience and photo ID laws;
  • Surveying and assessing state civic education policies;
  • Interviewing key stakeholders.

The bipartisan group of scholars and experts will use this research to inform its deliberations and final report.  Two short studies released by CIRCLE today provide some preliminary findings relating to the impact of state voting laws and civic education laws on youth voter turnout in 2012. Today, CIRCLE also released a summary of existing research entitled, “Voting Laws, Education, and Youth Civic Engagement: A Literature Review.”  These are examples of the kind of research CIRCLE will provide to the Commission and the public.

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CIRCLE ( is a nonpartisan, independent, academic research center that studies young people in politics and presents detailed data on young voters in all 50 states. CIRCLE was founded in 2001 with a generous gift from the Pew Charitable Trusts and is part of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University. CIRCLE’s reputation for reliable, independent, timely research has been hailed by experts in the field of civic partnership, such as Harvard University professor Robert Putnam who said CIRCLE has brought “the best and most serious research to one place.”

The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service ( is a national leader whose model and research are setting the standard for higher education’s role in civic engagement education. Serving every school of Tufts University, Tisch College creates an enduring culture that prepares students to be lifelong active citizens.

Tufts University ( located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized as one of the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs across the university’s schools is widely encouraged.

2 Responses to “Distinguished, Nonpartisan Commission Announced to Study and Inform Policies on Youth Voting”

  1. CIRCLE Commission on Youth Voting & Civic Knowledge « Peter Levine Says:

    […] Knowledge Posted on November 28, 2012 by Peter CIRCLE today announced the formation of a new Commission on Youth Voting & Civic Knowledge. We have organized it in response to controversies about recent voting legislation (for instance, […]

  2. Bipartisan Group of Experts to Release Groundbreaking Report On Involving Youth in Elections, Politics at NPC Newsmaker Event Says:

    […] Commission on Youth Voting and Civic Knowledge is a distinguished group of bipartisan scholars convened by CIRCLE to investigate exclusive data collected during and after the 2012 elections on issues […]