Turnout among college student voters more than doubled from the 2014 to 2018 midterm elections, according to a new report suggesting that a traditionally apathetic voting bloc may significantly influence next year’s presidential contest and politics at large.
Political researchers say efforts by colleges and universities to boost student civic engagement are paying off and that nearly 40 percent of students who were eligible to vote cast ballots in the 2018 elections, a significant upswing from 19 percent in the 2014 election. The change reflects a nationwide rise in voting participation in nearly every age demographic, but the spike among students is particularly noticeable.
The report released Thursday by Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy and Higher Education details the surge in college student voting. The National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement, which launched in 2013, is now widely considered to be the best gauge of student voting patterns.
The institute’s researchers collected the enrollment records of 10 million students from more than 1,000 colleges and universities to determine registration and voter participation rates among their students. Institutions that take part in the study receive a tailored report with this information, which is often used to develop their civic learning and voter-engagement strategies. If many students at a particular campus take advantage of the early voting times, for example, administrators there might add another polling station during that period.