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Hopeful news for 2020? Student voting was way up in 2018.

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David Rice of the group Higher Ed Works forwarded along an article from Inside Higher Education this morning that includes some encouraging news about a Tufts University study on student participation in U.S. elections. This is from “Massive Surge in Student Voting”:

Turnout among college student voters more than doubled from the 2014 to 2018 midterm elections, according to a new report suggesting that a traditionally apathetic voting bloc may significantly influence next year’s presidential contest and politics at large.

Political researchers say efforts by colleges and universities to boost student civic engagement are paying off and that nearly 40 percent of students who were eligible to vote cast ballots in the 2018 elections, a significant upswing from 19 percent in the 2014 election. The change reflects a nationwide rise in voting participation in nearly every age demographic, but the spike among students is particularly noticeable.

The report released Thursday by Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy and Higher Education details the surge in college student voting. The National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement, which launched in 2013, is now widely considered to be the best gauge of student voting patterns….

The study also found that voting rates were up among students of all races.

As noted, the report attributes the spike to variety of factors — from the rise of Trump to intentional efforts on college campuses to spur student participation. In the latter vein, it highlights a program at UNC Greensboro:

For instance, students at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro are given a checklist when they move out of the dormitories that asks them whether they’ve updated their voter registration with their new address.

Not surprisingly, the growth in participation has alarmed some conservatives.

Lawmakers are taking notice that students — who overwhelmingly tend to vote liberal — may play a role in the upcoming election. Some lawmakers have tried to limit early voting centers on campuses, as a result. For example, the former Maine governor Paul LePage, a Republican, went so far as to disseminate misleading information about the requirements for voting.

Kim Reynolds, the Republican governor of Iowa, recently was accused of disenfranchising college voters by scheduling two special elections on dates when certain students would not be on campus.

The bottom line: One can only hope that the events of the last few years, as well as the growing existential threats posed by the climate crisis and environmental challenges, have spurred young people to awareness and action and that it’s not a temporary phenomenon.

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