Campus voter turnout doubles from 2014 – 2018.

Press Release |

— FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE —

Seattle, WA (October 4, 2019) – On-campus voting at the University of Washington nearly doubled between 2014 and 2018, according to a report by The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE). NSLVE is a project of the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University.

In the 2018 Mid-Term Election, 52% of University of Washington students turned out to vote, compared to 28.8% in 2014. 

“When students are registered to vote and know how the process works, they turn out to vote,” said Alli Kirste, junior and WashPIRG’s New Voters Project Coordinator. “That’s why we worked in 2018 to make sure that every student on campus had the opportunity to register to vote and knew how to vote come election day.”

WashPIRG helped hundreds of students register to vote in 2018 and made more than 30,000 text, phone, and face-to-face reminders to help students find their polling place and get the polls.

Nationally, the Institute of Democracy and Higher Education found that college and university student turnout more than doubled between 2014 and 2018 with 40% of eligible students voting versus 19% in 2014. This 21 percentage point increase in turnout on college and universities across the country compares to 13.6% for all Americans.

“Gaining access to the NSLVE report was a great step for identifying where the UW is succeeding in regards to voter engagement and what gaps still need to be addressed,” said Rhiannon Rasaretnam, Community Organizer with the Associated Students of the University of Washington. “I am excited to be working with WashPIRG’s New Voter Project to use this information to increase student involvement on campus!”

“Studies show that peer-to-peer voter engagement is the most effective way to get students to the polls,” said Kirste. “This impressive increase in turnout was made possible thanks to student organizations, the ASUW, faculty, residence life, and administrators helping to make voter registration accessible here at UW to get out the vote”

Student leaders are working with a broad vote coalition this term to build off of their 2018 work. This past month, WashPIRG organized an event to help register voters on campus for National Voter Registration Day, joining over 4,000 groups around the country to celebrate the right to vote. The vote coalition is working to continue the momentum from this event to help even more students turn out to the polls in 2020. 

Campus and community members interested in joining the University of Washington Vote Coalition should contact Alli Kirste at ankirste@gmail.com

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The WashPIRG’s New Voters Project  voter registration and turnout effort is part of its New Voters Project campaign, one of the largest nonpartisan youth voter mobilization efforts in the country. WashPIRG’s New Voters Project has run peer-to-peer student voter mobilization drives to turn out the youth vote on college campuses for more than 30 years. Its philosophy is that the full participation of young people in the political process is essential to a truly representative, vibrant democracy. The New Voters Project does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, a political candidate or political party for elected office.

Part of Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE, https://idhe.tufts.edu) is an applied research center focused on college and university student political learning and engagement in democracy. IDHE researchers study student voting, equity, campus conditions for student political learning, discourse, participation, and agency for underrepresented and marginalized students. IDHE’s signature initiative, the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, or NSLVE, (https://idhe.tufts.edu/nslve) is a service to colleges and universities that provides participating institutions with tailored reports of their students’ voting rates. Launched in 2013 with 250 campuses, the study now serves more than 1,000 institutions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.