The Students Learn Students Vote (SLSV) Coalition congratulates the student leaders, campus administrators, faculty members, and nonprofit partners who supported student voting efforts in the 2020 election cycle, for helping achieve a record-breaking 66% student voting rate in the last election, according to the Tufts University Institute for Democracy and Higher Education’s (IDHE) National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE).
The 2020 student voting rate represents a 14-point increase over the 2016 election cycle, when the rate was 52%. According to IDHE, 97% of the more than 1,000 college campuses that participated in NSLVE saw an increase in 2020 turnout compared to 2016.
The growth in turnout was far from inevitable. Student democratic engagement efforts have increased exponentially in the last five years, with hundreds of organizations at the local, state and national levels, and countless individuals working to establish civic engagement and democratic participation as part of the cultural fabric of institutions of higher education. The SLSV Coalition’s formation in 2016 provided a national hub and coordinating body for these organizations to collaborate, network, and share best practices.
In the run-up to the 2020 election these Coalition partners worked under the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced leaders in the student voting space to adjust their outreach strategies and efforts, often on college campuses where many students were either not physically present, unable to meet in person, of unsure of where they would be on Election Day due to outbreaks and quarantine.
“These numbers are a testament to the commitment of the student leaders and voters who simply would not be prevented from making their voices heard, and the infrastructure of colleges, universities and nonprofit organizations that supported them throughout,” said SLSV Coalition Director Clarissa Unger. “For the past five years we’ve worked together to build a sustained movement of student democratic engagement, with this specific moment in mind. These numbers show that we’ve met the moment, and are building toward something even greater.”
Among NSLVE 2020’s notable findings is the fact that students aged 21 and younger voted at higher rates than students over 30 years old, bucking national and historical trends. The report also showed that, despite across-the-board turnout increases, disparities still exist among different types of institutions, with four-year private college turnout rates producing larger increases and higher turnout rates than public four-year universities and two-year colleges – highlighting the need for further investment in civic engagement at public institutions.
“This data is both a culmination and a roadmap,” said SLSV Coalition Deputy Director Marissa Corrente. “We’re excited to use the insights IDHE’s NSLVE report offers to build on last year’s successes, and help student voter engagement work to be even more successful, and sustainable, in 2022, 2024, and beyond.”
The SLSV Coalition thanks IDHE for their efforts in gathering and distributing the NSLVE reports, as well as the philanthropic donors who make student voter engagement work possible, and looks forward to working with partners throughout the Coalition to create even more growth and engagement in 2022, 2024, and beyond.
About the SLSV Coalition
The Students Learn Students Vote (SLSV) Coalition is the national hub and largest nonpartisan network in the United States dedicated to increasing college student voter participation. The Coalition convenes and connects partners, campuses, and students with each other and with resources and programming towards achieving a vision of ensuring that every student has easy and equal access to participate in every election. They use data, relationships, celebration, and easy-to-follow planning structures, to help campus and local leaders register and turnout more student voters every year. The SLSV Coalition is a project of the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. NCoC is strictly nonpartisan, and does not support or oppose any candidate or party.