Smiling student voters

WSU Students Show High Voter Engagement Second Election Cycle in a Row

November 9, 2021
By: Worcester State University News

The National Study of Learning, Voting and Student Engagement (NSLVE), run by the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education, released the reports from the 2020 election on Oct.  29 that show continued gains not only among Worcester State student population, but across the nation. This population, also known as Gen Z – which includes Lancers – are actively engaging in electoral politics. 

While across the nation, 66% of students voted in 2020, WSU saw an increase of 5.7 % from 2016 to a 69.1% voting rate among students in 2020. The registration rate of WSU students is 85.1% and the voting rate among registered students at WSU is 81.3%. All of these statistics represent an increase from our voting rates and registration rates from both 2016 and 2018.

“It takes a village,” Dr. Nancy Thomas reported.  Thomas is the Director of the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education housed at Tufts University and has been a frequent guest of the John J. Binienda Center for Civic Engagement at Worcester State, providing analysis as to the ways in which higher education might reinvigorate democratic processes.

In 2020, Thomas noted that voting college-age students exceeded previous voting records, with students casting ballots in record numbers and signaling a surge in civic engagement as Gen Z comes of age.

Nationwide, the percentage of college students who voted in the 2020 presidential election hit a record 66 percent, up 14 percentage points from 2016, a much greater increase than that among the general voting public over that period. That also brought the voting rate of college students nearly in line with the rest of the population. Thomas called the increase “quite stunning.”

Anthony Dell’Aera, assistant professor of political science, also weighed in on the results. “During my time at Worcester State there has been an ongoing effort to build our campus as a hub of political discourse and civic engagement. I believe that our co-curricular programming and our evolving academic curriculum, which now includes a major in political science and a minor in civic engagement, have raised students’ political awareness and have heightened their sense of political efficacy.”

Dell’Aera also sees the results as the fruits of the labors of the many in the village of Worcester State University. 

“The extraordinary levels of voter participation demonstrated by our students is testimony to their willingness to walk the walk and be part of the solution in our democracy, and it is a satisfying affirmation of the work done by many individuals in the Worcester State community as we continue to push ahead with our efforts to promote even greater and deeper levels of civic participation beyond voting.”

Worcester State University has participated in NSLVE since 2012


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