USFVotes’ Big Year
Through USFVotes’ continued work, voter engagement on campus has reached new heights. A recent report from the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE), creators of the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) details USF’s student voting rates — increasing 20% over the past year.
On campuses across the country, students built on the momentum swing of 2018 and voted at high rates in the 2020 election, with voter turnout jumping to 66% in last year’s presidential election. The 14 percentage point increase, from 52% turnout in the 2016 election, outpaces that of all Americans, which jumped 6 percentage points from 61% to 67%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“That students, often younger and first-time voters, turned out at rates commensurate with the general public is nothing short of stunning,” said IDHE Director Nancy Thomas. “We attribute this high level of participation to many factors, including student activism on issues such as racial injustice, global climate change and voter suppression, as well as increased efforts by educators to reach students and connect them to the issues and to voting resources.”
The report reflects this, showing that 79% of USF voters did not go in-person to cast their ballot, opting to do by mail or voting early. This rate had a 14% increase from 2016, likely because of the amount of students from out of state as well as the role of the pandemic during the 2020 election. Additionally, every race and ethnicity’s voting rate increased, with the most substantial increase being that of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander identified students going from 31% in 2018 to 70% in 2020.
“As registration is only the first step in exercising civic engagement and the right to vote, it is pivotal that we make voting as accessible as possible to those on our campus so our voter participation rates continue to increase as well,” writes Andrew Goodman Foundation Team USFVotes lead, Kallie Barrie in a recent SF Foghorn piece. “In past election years, USF made classes on election day optional to give students ample time to vote, but increasing the use of mail-in ballots and drop boxes throughout our campus would only make voting that much easier.”
USFVotes continues to host registration drives, spread information on what is on the ballot in upcoming elections, and update the student body on what is happening on the national level in policies as well as in the local level.