Michigan State University reported that student voting on its campus was up in last year’s midterm election, increasing to 35% in 2018 from 14% in 2014.
In recent years, campus and community partners worked together on MSUVote, a nonpartisan committee with a mission to increase the number of registered student voters, inform and educate students on candidates and issues while bolstering student participation on Election Day. MSUVote is co-chaired by Renee Brown, director of the MSU Center for Community Engaged Learning, and Suchitra Webster, MSU community liaison.
“The emphasis is on registration, education, and participation,” Brown said. “Voting is a fundamental example of civic engagement. Their increased involvement during the 2018 election process is another way that Spartans are learning to address society’s most critical issues and we are proud of their enthusiasm and willingness to take action.”
MSU was designated a Voter Friendly Campus beginning in 2016. MSUVote 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. MSU also has longstanding partnerships with the Campus Election Engagement Project, the Campus Vote Project and the League of Women Voters.
“Our students recognize the future is in their hands,” said MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. “Voting for leaders and issues they believe in can create better understanding of the challenges facing the world we live in. MSU is providing a strong foundation of support to help students connect their civic responsibility to an increasingly diverse and complex global society.”
The new voting report is part of the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement conducted by the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life. The findings show that nationwide, voting rates at participating colleges doubled on average compared to the previous 2014 midterm. In 2018, the average institutional voting rate among campuses in the study was 39%, nearly 20 percentage points higher than 2014’s average turnout rate. Turnout increases were widespread, with virtually all campuses seeing an increase over 2014.
“We have been especially fortunate to have the full support and commitment of area partners, including the East Lansing City Clerk and the League of Women Voters of the Lansing area,” Webster said. “From registering students at orientation to providing voting guides and FAQs, from participating in voter education activities for on and off campus students to staffing multiple campus precincts, these colleagues have been fully immersed in MSU's civic engagement initiatives.”
The report is the only national study of college-student voting, based on voting records of more than 10 million students from over 1,000 colleges and universities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The study provides reports to participating colleges and universities, which use them to support political learning and civic engagement, as well as to identify and address gaps in political and civic participation. Tufts did not receive any information that could individually identify students or how they voted.
At MSU, the Office for University Outreach and Engagement supports the NSLVE initiative and is the repository for the data generated in the research.
View the full campus report here.