GREENVILLE, N.C. — East Carolina University reported that student voting on its campus increased 21 points in last year’s presidential election, rising to 73% in 2020 from a rate of 52% in 2016. Due to this increase, the university earned a Gold Seal from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.
This report comes from the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE), creators of the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement, or NSLVE. IDHE is located at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life.
Nationwide, 66% of students voted in the 2020 presidential election, up from 52% in 2016. The 14-percentage point increase outpaced that of all Americans, which jumped 6 percentage points from 61% to 67%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“That students, often younger and first-time voters, turned out at rates commensurate with the general public is nothing short of stunning,” said IDHE Director Nancy Thomas. “We attribute this high level of participation to many factors, including student activism on issues such as racial injustice, global climate change and voter suppression, as well as increased efforts by educators to reach students and connect them to the issues and to voting resources.”
The nonpartisan Pirates Vote initiative at ECU has engaged with the student body to create the expectation that all Pirates vote and are active citizens in our democracy. Officials say the initiative is paying off, with almost 3 out of 4 Pirates voting in the 2020 election.
“It’s imperative for our students to learn about and participate in democratic engagement while they are in college,” said Dr. Virginia Hardy, ECU vice chancellor for student affairs. “When they graduate from ECU, we want them to be engaged citizens seeking ways to become influential, positive change agents in this global society. Creating pathways for students to learn and then take action to generate momentum or empower others to change is an amazing skill to possess.” The full campus report can be viewed at https://clce.ecu.edu/students/pirates-vote/.