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K-State Today

November 2, 2021

Election Day and student voter participation

Submitted by Melissa Winkel

Today, Nov. 2, is the final day to vote in this year's election. For those registered, the opportunity to vote will occur at your designated polling place. If you're not sure where it is or just want to confirm the location — some have changed because of local construction projects — visit the Kansas secretary of state website. You will also be able to see your sample ballot ensuring that you are an informed voter. Each polling place on Election Day is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

This year, we have an opportunity to build on the momentum of increased voter participation as indicated by the recently released report "Democracy Counts 2020: Record-Breaking Turnout and Student Resiliency" from the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tufts University.

Across the United States, the percentage of college students who voted in the 2020 presidential election hit a record 66%, up 14 percentage points from 2016, a considerable increase when compared with the general voting public over that period. That also brought the voting rate of college students nearly in line with the rest of the population. The increase was especially significant among the youngest voters, ages 18 to 21, many of whom voted for the first time in last year's presidential election.

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. More details will be communicated by the Institute for Civil Discourse and Democracy as we process our data from the 2020 election to inform future voting registration and participation efforts, especially through the campuswide work of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge Team.

"This is a real opportunity to see voting as a foundational element of democracy," said institute director Timothy J. Shaffer. "Voting informs other civic practices that led to more engagement in public life. This report highlights the ways in which the narrative of young people being apathetic regarding politics is both misguided and inaccurate. We see variations based on majors and race/ethnicity groups that present opportunities about how we can continue to increase voter participation across the student body at K-State."

K-State participates in the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement, which 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. You can read the university's NSLVE report for more information.