Voter turnout among students at the University of Michigan for midterm elections tripled in 2018 from 2014, with 41 percent of students voting. 

More than 15,800 students cast their vote in the 2018 midterm elections — up from 5,282 in 2014 — raising the university’s student voting rate to 41 percent from 14 percent, according to data released by the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement.

U-M’s increase was slightly higher than the national average among college students, which jumped from 19 percent to 40 percent overall in the study.

“The increase is significant,” says Mary Jo Callan, director of U-M’s Ginsberg Center. “Especially when you take into account the reality that the state of Michigan had among the most restrictive youth voter laws in the country during the 2018 election cycle.”

Since that time, some of the state’s voting laws were changed to ease the path for student voting, including same-day voter registration and no-reason absentee voting.

In September 2017, U-M launched the Big Ten Voting Challenge, a nonpartisan effort aimed at increasing voter registration and turnout among college students on all 14 campuses of the Big Ten.

The challenge, led by the Ginsberg Center, will award the campus with the greatest overall turnout in 2018, and the campus with the greatest growth in turnout from 2014 to 2018. 

Results from the challenge are expected to be released later this month.

At the launch, the presidents across the Big Ten Conference each pledged $10,000 to be used on their respective campuses to promote student public engagement.

U-M created the Big Ten Voting Challenge Presidential Internship, and offered the first internship in the summer of 2019 working within Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office in Lansing. An additional internship will be offered in the summer of 2020.

NSLVE is a signature initiative of the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. IDHE is an applied research center focused on college and university student political learning and participation in democracy.

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