Kate Kemper
Center for Service Learning

KU shows increase in student voter rates, according to national report

Mon, 11/22/2021

LAWRENCE — According to Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE), the percentage of University of Kansas students voting increased significantly in last year’s presidential election, rising to 71% in 2020. This marks an increase of nearly 20% from 2016. Those findings will be the topic of an upcoming virtual event next month at KU, featuring two representatives from IDHE.

The 2020 presidential election elicited historic levels of voter turnout both nationally and within the state of Kansas. College students turned out to vote at a national rate of 66% across National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) participating institutions, a significant jump from the 2016 rate of 52%. The turnout outpaces that of all Americans, which jumped 6 percentage points from 61% to 67% in the same time period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

NSLVE offers colleges and universities an opportunity to learn their student registration and voting rates and, for interested campuses, a closer examination of their campus climate for political learning and engagement and correlations between specific student learning experiences and voting. KU receives campus-specific data reflecting voter rates for each presidential and midterm election cycle. KU’s current and past NSLVE reports can be found on the campus ALL IN Challenge webpage.

The Center for Service Learning, Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity and The Commons’ Educate and Act event will hold space for conversation about KU's most recent student voting results from NSLVE. The virtual event will take place from noon to 1 p.m. Dec. 1. The Educate and Act series features experts on different aspects of U.S. democracy and centers opportunities for civic engagement. Programs in this series feature experts from across campus as well as specialists beyond the university.

“The collaborative efforts of both campus and community partners contributed to enhanced student voter engagement,” said Jomella Watson-Thompson, director of the KU Center for Service Learning. “Through the KU Civic Engagement Ambassadors program, campus partners have become more intentional in communicating and coordinating opportunities to advance student civic engagement activities, including student voting. Campus partners, including student, staff and faculty with an interest in championing civic engagement at KU and more broadly, are invited to serve as a KU Civic Engagement Ambassador.”

Through community and campus partnerships, the KU Center for Service Learning advances service learning, community-engaged scholarship and civic engagement that fosters a commitment to participation for a diverse, just and global society.

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