Young people flooded the polls in the 2018 midterm elections, voting at record rates nationwide.
College students in Minnesota were no exception. The number of students voting in the midterms jumped 19.8 percentage points from 2014 to 2018, translating to nearly 51,000 more ballots cast across the state. That’s according to a “State of Student Voting” report released this week by LeadMN, a statewide association for two-year colleges.
Two Twin Cities metro campuses were among the top performers for student turnout. The University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus saw the state’s highest voting rate for public four-year universities. For two-year community colleges, Bloomington’s Normandale won the top spot.
Despite the gains, advocates for higher turnout say more can be done heading into 2020. The overall turnout rate of 47.6% for students still lags the statewide average for all voters. The report concludes that more targeted efforts, such as campuswide registration drives and early voting locations near the classroom, could help close that gap.
“If institutions shy away from this role, it will have a devastating impact on our society and institutions as public trust erodes,” the report reads. “More active engagement is the only way that higher education institutions can do more to protect the tree of democracy.”