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Northwestern student voting more than doubles

2018 midterm voter participation rate eclipses national average for college students

I Voted sticker

A new study of more than 1,000 colleges and universities shows that Northwestern University more than doubled its student voter participation rate in the 2018 midterm elections, significantly outpacing most other universities.

According to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement conducted by the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tufts University, the average voting rate across the universities involved in the study increased from 20% in the 2014 midterm elections to 39% in 2018. In comparison, Northwestern's rate increased from 22% in 2014 to 51% in 2018 -- a 29 point increase. This eclipsed the national average by more than 30%.

52% of NU students voted in 2018, compared to 39% of students nationally.

Northwestern has long been recognized as a national leader in voter engagement. Through the University's NU Votes initiative, led by the University's Center for Civic Engagement, all eligible incoming students are encouraged to register to vote, and on-campus and online resources help all students update their registration, request absentee ballots, educate themselves on candidates and issues, and cast their ballots in person or through the mail in local, state and federal elections.

After the 2016 national election, Northwestern was recognized by the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge with five national awards for voter engagement efforts, including "Highest Voting Rate Among Large, Private 4-Year Institutions" and "Most Improved Voting Rate Among All U.S. Universities."

Media coverage of Northwestern student voter efforts

In 2018, NU Votes worked with colleagues across campus to encourage informed civic participation. Departments across the University -- including Student Affairs, the President's Office, Athletics, a wide range of schools and departments and others -- came together to provide voter information and education, while student ambassadors and student groups encouraged their peers to turn out and vote. In addition to NU Votes' traditional efforts, additional 2018 initiatives included public service ads that ran at home football games to encourage voting and student-organized nonpartisan voter education events, ballot parties and trips to the polls from residence halls.

"We've worked hard with leaders across campus -- including students, faculty, staff and administrators -- to try to make responsible voter engagement a cultural norm for eligible students at Northwestern," said Katrina Weimholt, assistant director of Northwestern's Center for Civic Engagement and coordinator of the NU Votes initiative. "With all this support and Northwestern's commitment to helping students learn how to be engaged citizens, it's no wonder the University has emerged as a national model in this space."

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