Although 73% of eligible Temple University student voters cast ballots in the 2020 election, student turnout is expected to decline in the 2022 midterm elections despite several key statewide races, such as for the governor and U.S. senator, said political science professor Michael Sances.
Turnout will depend on whether students still consider important several factors that brought them to the polls in 2020, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the influence of controversial figures like former President Donald Trump.
“I’m very confident [voter turnout is] will be lower than 2020, in all areas and among young people,” Sances said. “Compared to 2018, I’d say we’re maybe coming as high as that, but again, I think a lot of 2018 was driven by the midpoint of the Trump presidency.”
Temple student turnout in the 2020 election was 13.6% higher than in the 2016 election, said Chris Carey, senior associate dean of students in charge of Temple Votes, the nonpartisan voter and Temple civic engagement group.
The university received its 2020 voting data after its first participation in the National Learning, Voting and Engagement Study, a Tufts University study that measures the voting habits of college students and universities. The study combines a database of 10 million student records with publicly available voting records for the 2012-2020 elections.
The NSLVE data was used for the Tufts Institute for Democracy and Higher Education’s “Democracy Counts 2020: Record-Breaking Turnout and Student Resiliency” report, which incorporates the voting rates of nine million students at 1,051 institutions of higher education in all 50 states. and the District of Columbia.
Nationally, about 66% of university students nationwide voted in the 2020 elections, a 14% increase from the 2016 elections, according to the report.
Overall, the country posted a 67% voting rate in the 2020 elections, up 6% from the 2016 elections. voter turnout between the 2016 and 2020 elections.
In 2020, 83% of students were registered to vote and 66% actually voted. This is an increase from 2016, when 76% of students were registered to vote, but only 52% actually voted.
Temple voter registration was 83.6% for the 2020 election and 87.3% of those registered voters actually voted, Carey said.
This demonstrates that “rates of return” – the number of registered voters who vote – are increasing among students, even though these rates have been low in previous years.
The increase in the national student voting rate can be attributed to several factors.
For example, younger students are generally more liberal and may have been thrilled to vote for then-Democratic candidate President Joe Biden or to vote against former President Donald Trump. Other factors include the importance of early voting and mail-in voting, and voters having more time to learn about candidates and issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sances said.
“I think part of that, just being locked down and not having a lot of other things to do meant people were paying more attention to politics,” Sances added.
Brynn Chafin, a freshman law student at Beasley School of Law, attended the University of Arkansas while pursuing a communications degree when they voted in the 2020 election.
Even though Chafin knew Trump would win their state, they still felt it was important to vote for Biden.
“For me, it was mostly about principle,” Chafin said. “Even though my vote wasn’t really going to count for my state, as a matter of principle. It’s important to go out there and say what you think.
Blessyn Marcelle, a young political science student, believes that communication and collaboration between students is important for electoral participation.
“We found ourselves talking a lot about it and being excited to vote,” Marcelle said. “It’s a public record to see that people are registered to vote. My friend and I were checking to make sure our other friends were registered to vote.
The vote rate among students voting for the first time in 2020 was 59%, up 16% from 2016. Sances believes first-time vote rates are generally low because many voters for the first time are 18 years old and must take the initiative to register. themselves.
“It’s never really been that high,” Sances said. “So 59%, I think, is a pretty big number.”
Chafin encourages student voters to get into the habit of voting.
“We are preparing to be the ones to step into leadership in the future,” Chafin said. “And so, first of all, if we can just establish this routine like every four years I vote, if you can do this part of your life that’s important just to get participation, participation is always good, that it is for you to know if I agree with you or not.