College student voting rates nearly doubled in the 2018 midterm elections, based on a voting analysis of more than 10 million college students from 1,000 campuses. The average institutional voting rate was 39.1% compared to 2014’s 19.7%, with women casting more ballots than men, according to the study by Tufts University.
Minority groups, specifically Hispanic and African American women, had higher numbers in 2018, according to the study. African American women were the most active voters on campus, with Hispanic women making significant advances from the last midterm.
Numbers were higher among students in the humanities, social sciences and education fields. However, STEM and business majors had low numbers.
“While more work remains to fulfill higher education’s mission to educate for democracy, it is clear that colleges and universities provide a valuable space for political learning, civic engagement and electoral participation,” said Nancy Thomas, director of Tufts Institute for Democracy and Higher Education (IDHE).
“Being for democracy is not a partisan agenda,” Thomas said.
The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), conducted by IDHE, is the only national study of college student voting.
University of Nebraska at Omaha professor Barbara Pickering, Ph.D., is actively involved with civic engagement efforts on campus. She says the “All In Challenge,” which has been active the past several years, has contributed to success in voter turnout.
“I believe students who actively participate in civic engagement programs are given excellent opportunities to learn more and more about candidates in the upcoming elections,” Pickering said.
She also said she thinks the reason behind a small voter turnout in 2014 was lack of accurate information, or information in general, about specific candidates. In some cases, people may choose not to vote at all because they don’t know enough about a candidate.
Pickering says students are encouraged to engage in civic activities on campus and have small discussions about all candidates. This will allow students to be better prepared for the next elections.