Democracy Counts 2020: National NSLVE Data

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Democracy Counts 2020 is the national report of IDHE's National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), which examines electoral participation among college and university students in the United States In the 2020 presidential election, the national student voting rate was 66%, a remarkable 14-point increase from 2016 and nearly matching the Census-based voter turnout estimate (67%) for the entire U.S. population.

Other major findings in our report include:

  • Participation rose nearly universally: 97% of campuses in our study saw some level of increase in student voter turnout in 2020 compared to 2016 
     
  • In 2020, the rate of registered students who then voted hit 80%, up from 69% in 2016.
     
  • Students ages 18-21 defied national patterns and prior student voting patterns and voted at slightly higher rates than older students.
     
  • Despite gains across the board, the highest voting rates were achieved at private institutions. Voting rates at private Bachelor’s degree-granting institutions jumped to 75% in 2020, an increase of 17 percentage points over 2016. Students at women’s colleges voted at a rate of 76%.
     
  • Asian American student participation rose in 2020 by 17 percentage points over 2016, although Asian American student turnout was still lower (at 51%) than other demographic groups. Overall, white women voted at the highest rate among race/gender subgroups (at 73%), followed by multiracial women (69%), white men (68%) and Black women (66%).

Democracy Counts 2020