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Student Voting Up at IU South Bend

Sep 24, 2019

Indiana University South Bend has announced that student voting on its campus was up in last year’s election, increasing 26.1 percentage points from 14.7% in 2014 to 40.8% in 2018.The student voting rate at IU South Bend was higher than the national average of 39.1%, and rates increased for all demographic groups across race, ethnicity, gender, year in college, and field of study.

The IU South Bend results are part of the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (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.

We are excited to see our students match and exceed this national trend among campuses committed to promoting civic learning and electoral engagement, said Elizabeth Bennion, professor of Political Science and director of the IU South Bend American Democracy Project. Our students’ disappointing, below average, turnout in 2014 convinced us to add non-partisan voter mobilizing efforts to our work, including button-campaigns, more high visibility encouragement to vote, and a party-to-the-polls. While we saw an increase in 2016 (compared to 2012) we weren’t sure what we’d find in the midterm results. It’s exciting to see all of our hard work pay off.

Bennion believes that a combination of national factors and campus effort led to this year’s boost in college students’ voting rates and stressed her belief that all voices should be heard. We never tell students how to vote. Our students volunteer for campaigns and run for office under many party labels. The key is that they are doing their part to create a system that better reflects the views of all eligible voters, including college students, said Bennion.

The NSLVE report 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, like IU South Bend, which use them to support political learning and civic engagement, as well as to identify and address gaps in political and civic participation.

Dr. Bennion is the director of the American Democracy Project at IU South Bend which has become a valuable resource for the discussion of political issues and the engagement of the campus and community in the democratic process. The American Democracy Project (ADP) is a multi-campus initiative that seeks to create an intellectual and experiential understanding of civic engagement for undergraduates enrolled at institutions that are members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).The goal of the project is to produce graduates who understand and are committed to engaging in meaningful actions as citizens in a democracy. IUSouth Bend is one of more than 250 campuses nationwide participating in this national initiative.

For more information or to get access to the full report contact Dr. Bennion at or 574-520-4128.


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