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Voter participation by Metropolitan State students among highest in nation

Saint Paul, Minnesota— A national report shows that voter participation among Metropolitan State University students increased to 58% in 2018 from a rate of 35.4% in 2014.

Metropolitan State University is pleased to cultivate one of the highest student voting rates in the country—nearly 20% higher than the national average determined by NSLVE’s major study of the 2018 mid-term election. Through numerous annual efforts and campaigns, such as Metro State Votes, the university works to educate voters and increase participation in elections among university students and employees. The Metro State Votes biennial campaign combines course-embedded action learning projects, information tables, co-curricular events and outreach through campus media to register, educate and turn out voters.

Special events have included a debate on Minnesota constitutional amendments, candidate forums, presidential debate screenings/discussions and mock polling stations. These campaigns are collaborative efforts of Metropolitan State University’s Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship, Student Association, University Activities Board, social science department, external collaborators, and statewide actors including Students United (Minnesota State universities’ student association) and the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office. These activities are in line with the university’s vision to demonstrate unwavering commitment to civic engagement.

This report is part of the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, or NSLVE, conducted by the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life. The study shows that nationwide, the voting rates at participating college campuses doubled on average compared to the previous 2014 midterm. In 2018, the Average Institutional Voting Rate (AIVR) among campuses in the study was 39.1 percent, nearly 20 percentage points higher than 2014’s average turnout rate of 19.7 percent. Turnout increases were widespread, with virtually all campuses seeing an increase over 2014.

2014-2018 NSLVE Campus Report
Read the 2018 National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement Campus Report

“It’s great news that rates of participation increased across all age groups and racial categories,” says University President Virginia “Ginny” Arthur. “We’re especially encouraged by the participation rate of our youngest voters—28% higher compared to the 2014 mid-terms for those students ages 18 to 24. Congratulations to our America Indian/Indigenous students, who outpaced all campus groups with an impressive 30% increase over the same period. We can surely take pride in contributing to Minnesota’s status as first in the nation for voter turnout. And yet, when upwards of 40% of our students didn’t vote at mid-term, there’s clearly more work to be done, particularly within historically disenfranchised communities.”

The report is based on the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), conducted by IDHE, which is the only national study of college-student voting. It is based on the voting records of more than 10 million students at more than 1,000 colleges and universities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia; IDHE does not receive any information that could individually identify students or how they voted. The study provides reports to participating colleges and universities, including Metropolitan State University, which use them to support political learning and civic engagement, as well as to identify and address gaps in political and civic participation.

Part of Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) is an applied research center focused on college and university student political learning and engagement in democracy. IDHE researchers study student voting, equity, campus conditions for student political learning, discourse, participation, and agency for underrepresented and marginalized students. IDHE's signature initiative, the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, or NSLVE, (https://idhe.tufts.edu/nslve) is a service to colleges and universities that provides participating institutions with tailored reports of their students' voting rates. Launched in 2013 with 250 campuses, the study now serves more than 1,000 institutions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

Metropolitan State University, a member of Minnesota State, is the Twin Cities public, urban, comprehensive state university providing lifelong learning, and competitive academic and professional degree programs at the bachelor, master and doctoral levels.