Student Voting Numbers Increase at MSU

November 2, 2021

Michigan State University reported student voting on its campus increased significantly in last year’s presidential election, rising to 76.6% in 2020, an increase of 24.4 % from the 2016 general election, and 10% higher than the national student voting rate of 66%.

MSUvote, a non-partisan campus committee more than 20-years-old, co-chaired by Renee Brown, director of the MSU Center for Community Engaged Learning, and Suchitra Webster, MSU community liaison, works to ensure students understand their rights and are registered to vote, as well as are informed and educated on candidates and issues.

“MSUvote emphasizes registration, education and participation in the election process,” Brown said. “We are excited to see Spartans are taking advantage of their fundamental right to vote and are using their voice and their vote at the ballot box.”

MSU was first recognized in 2016 as a Voter Friendly Campus, a designation the university still holds today. This year, MSU was also named in Washington Monthly’s 2021 Best Colleges for Student Voting Honor Roll.

Webster added the support of area partners, including the East Lansing City Clerk, which opened a satellite office this fall at Brody Hall on the MSU campus, is also important to ensure students have access to voting information and resources. MSU also has strong partnerships with the All In Democracy Challenge, the Campus Vote Project and the Campus Election Engagement Project.

“Our partnerships are increasingly important in helping Spartans understand their voting rights while they are away at school,” Webster said. “The focus of MSUvote and our local partners is educating the community, which in turn means they are able to participate in the process.”

The new voting report is part of the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement conducted by the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life. The findings show that nationwide, voting rates at participating colleges on average was 66%, up from 53% in 2016 among campuses in the study.

IDHE’s National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) 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.

View the full campus report here.

MSU also joined the Big Ten Voting Challenge in 2017 with the goal to raise the number of registered student voters and to get them to the polls. The Big Ten Voting Challenge will honor the campus with the greatest overall turnout in 2020 and the campus with the greatest growth in turnout from 2016 to 2020. Those announcements are expected later this year.

See additional coverage in MSUToday.

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