College Student Voting Rates and Lessons for 2016

45% of college students in the study cast ballots in the 2012 general election.

The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) has released a detailed analysis of the voting rates of millions of college students, highlighting important findings relevant to the 2016 presidential election.

This first-of-its kind study offers insights into precisely how certain groups of college students voted in 2012, based on an analysis of the voting records of 7.4 million students at 783 higher education institutions.

Major findings include:

  • Overall, college students in the NSLVE study voted at a rate of 45% in 2012, with those eligible to vote for the first time voting at a lower rate of 40%.
  • Women voted at higher rates than men.
  • Among all racial/ethnic groups, Black students voted at the highest rate (55%). Among Black students, women in the study voted at a rate of 61%, while men voted at 44%, which was similar to the percentage of white men (45%).
  • Only 48% of first-time eligible voters chose to vote in person on Election Day. The remainder voted absentee (29%), early (16%) or by mail (7%), where allowed.