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Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy

August 2 Primary Election: K-State Students Challenged to Increase Participation

Since committing to the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge for increasing student election participation, K-State has been able to monitor our progress with every national election. Our 2020 NSLVE report (see report below) demonstrated an impressive  increase in voting rate over the 2016 election.  But primary elections have not been counted in these reports, and it is common knowledge that  turnout is exceedingly low for these contests that determine the candidates from each party in general elections.  This August 2, the Kansas primary election will be accompanied by a special election featuring a proposed amendment to the state Constitution.   All eligible voters, unaffiliated as well as Libertarian party members, may vote on the proposed Amendment 22 Regulation of Abortion. A simple majority of voters is required to amend the Constitution, making this form of direct democracy extremely powerful.  K-State students are strongly encouraged to engage in every election, taking advantage of advance voting in person or by mail-in ballots, offered July 13 - noon of August 1.

K-State Student Voting Up in 2020 National Elections!

Kansas State University reported that student voting on its campus increased significantly in last year’s presidential election, rising to 67% in 2020 from a rate of 45% in 2016. Read the full campus report.

ICDD, along with all of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge team, is committed to active and informed citizenship.  These numbers reflect a concerted effort across the university to engage students and faculty in voter registration, despite the challenges of the pandemic. Significantly, the rate at which registered student voters from K-State actually voted in the 2020 election reached 78%, an increase of 18% from 2016. 

This report comes from the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE), creators of the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, or NSLVE. IDHE is located at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life.

Nationwide, the study’s authors report a record-breaking set of findings. On campuses across the country, students built on the momentum swing of 2018 and voted at high rates in the 2020 election, with voter turnout jumping to 66% in last year’s presidential election. The 14 percentage point increase, from 52% turnout in the 2016 election, outpaces that of all Americans, which jumped 6 percentage points from 61% to 67%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“That students, often younger and first-time voters, turned out at rates commensurate with the general public is nothing short of stunning,” said IDHE Director Nancy Thomas. “We attribute this high level of participation to many factors, including student activism on issues such as racial injustice, global climate change and voter suppression, as well as increased efforts by educators to reach students and connect them to the issues and to voting resources.”

At K-State, a student-led initiative led to Kansas Voter Registration Day, a spring semester complement to the September National Voter Registration Day, and a mid-term reminder for students to be ready for summer primaries and update their addresses in the voter registration rolls.

IDHE’s National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE, pronounced n-solve) is the nation’s largest study of college and university student voting. Institutions must opt-in to the study, and at this time, nearly 1,200 campuses of all types—community colleges, research universities, minority-serving and women’s colleges, state universities, and private institutions—participate. The dataset reflects all 50 states and the District of Columbia and includes 49 of the nation’s 50 flagship schools. IDHE uses de-identified student records to ensure student privacy. The 2020 dataset is robust with 8,880,700 voting-eligible students representing 1,051 colleges and universities.

Put Yourself on the Map  

Are you a facilitator with skills to offer communities in need of productive conversation?  Add your profile to the Kansas Civic Life Project, which aims to bring communities together with civic professionals capable of facilitating what might sometimes be rather difficult discussions. The map is a directory that demonstrates the breadth of civic discourse skills across our state.  Enlarge your own contacts by consulting this map, and inquire into modes of conversation that you can learn and experience.

KCPL map