Study reveals rise in student voting

Parkside Voting by Race.png
Graph showing voting trend statistics on race. Graphs of other demographics are available online. COURTESY OF BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS


The 2016 presidential election was undeniably one of the most historic and controversial elections in the history of the United States. Then candidate Donald Trump incessantly dominated headlines and, at times, political discourse seemed impossible to escape. It is no surprise then that voting among college students rose 3.2 percent nationally from 2012 according to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE).

NSLVE claims in its 2016 report that it is the “only objective measure of student voting.” In all, over 1,000 schools—including UW-Parkside—contribute information to the study which breaks down voting percentages into numerous categories that reveal the voting habits and trends among students from all states, walks of life, and types of higher education institutions.

But how did UW-Parkside students compare to the national averages, and what can the NSLVE report reveal about college students?

Overall numbers

In 2012, the national voting rate was 45.1 percent whereas in 2016 it rose to 48.3 percent; however, UW-Parkside students have consistently voted at higher rates than the rest of the country: 60.8 percent voted in 2012 and 56.7 did so in 2016. Contrary to the national trend, UW-Parkside students felt less inclined to vote in the latest election.

UW-Parkside was deemed a “bronze seal campus” by the All In American Democracy Challenge for having a voting rate between 50 and 59 percent.

Interesting differences

A student’s major had a curiously significant effect on their tendency to vote. Nationally in 2016, students in the social sciences voted at the highest rates: 53.2 percent. The lowest were among STEM students, only 43.6 percent of which voted. At UW-Parkside 74.1 percent of multi/interdisciplinary students voted, the highest of any field of study, but students enrolled as parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies majors voted at the lowest rate of 47.3 percent.

Gender too had a great effect on one’s tendency to vote. In both 2012 and 2016, women have voted higher than men by a large margin. 44.4 percent of male college students voted nationally whereas 51.6 percent of females chose to. UW-Parkside students for the most part mirrored the national rates with 77.3 percent of women and 71.8 percent of men voting. These percentages are inflated because of poor data regarding students’ gender.

Regarding students’ race, whites voted the most nationally in 2016 at 53.3 percent, where Asians voted at the lowest rate: 31.1 percent. African American students were the only demographic to have a decrease in voting from 2012, likely because of their lack of representation in the race. UW-Parkside closely mirrored the national numbers, but Hawaiians/Pacific islanders had the lowest voting rate at 34.7 percent.

Full report available online

The full NSLVE report is available online at Tufts University’s website, and UW-Parkside’s individual report is on the school’s website for anyone interested in seeing the wealth of information available.


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