Student voting rate doubled in four years

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Student voting rate doubled in four years

Report shows 36.9 percent of MCC students voted in 2018 midterms, compared to 13.4 percent in 2014

Mesa Community College’s (MCC) efforts to increase student participation at the polls have proven effective according to a recent report from National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE).

NSLVE released a detailed report with a break down of student voting and registration rates, comparing them to national averages based off of the 2014 and 2018 midterm elections.

“This is a great tool to see how effective our strategies are at getting students involved,” explained MCC Director of Community and Civic Engagement Duane Oakes. “We know that the majority of student voters are involved when it comes to presidential elections, but midterms affect their lives on a daily basis and are very important.”

The NSLVE website explains presidential elections usually have a significantly higher voter turnout than local elections. Oakes is hoping to make those numbers line up a little closer at MCC.

The MCC-specific report showed nearly 60% of eligible students were registered to vote in 2014, and in 2018 that number increased to 65 percent. The most drastic increase is the percentage of registered students who actually hit the polls. In 2014 only 13.4 percent of registered students voted That percentage more than doubled during the next midterm election at 36 percent.

There was also a breakdown of the voting methods students used as well as gender, field of study, age, and more. Nearly one percent more women voted than men in the 2018 election. The highest percentage of voters based off age was nearly 67 percent of students 50 years of age and older. Thirty-one percent of students between 22 to 24 were the lowest rated. Of all voters, 67 percent used early voting ballots and 27.5 percent voted in-person on election day.

The improved numbers are likely the result of a new program that registers students and educates on the importance of being an active voter. The Andrew Goodman Foundation partners with campuses to inspire students to pursue social change. According to the ant to change that.

“If every student voted,that would be enough to flip an election,” said Andrew Goodman Foundation lead ambassador Kim Morrow. “If you’re not happy with things, and you’re complaining about how things are running, and you didn’t vote? You shouldn’t be complaining then. You’re not doing anything to change it, you’re just complaining. This is your right. You’re not powerless. You can make changes.”

According to the report, even though the midterm numbers increased from 2014 to 2018, MCC still is below the institution average. The national voting rate for all institutions was 39.1 percent in 2018–2.2 percent higher than MCC.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” said Oakes.

MCC student Amanda Tripp celebrated her 18th birthday in August and will be voting for her first time in the upcoming Mesa Unified School District elections, Nov. 5.

“I think it’s exciting to be able to have a say in what is happening in the city I live in,” she said. “I want to be involved in every election I can, because then I will feel like I did my part in some way.”

“The upcoming election will affect our local elementary, junior high, and high schools,” Oakes said. “When we define civic engagement, we define it as the activities that improve the quality of life, and we make those improvements by voting and educating ourselves on political and non-political matters.”

The Andrew Goodman ambassadors on campus open a dialogue with students and provide education and resources so students engage in future elections. They do not push for certain propositions or candidates, they remain unbiased and let the student decide for themselves.

“We are non-partisan, so we do not tell students who they should vote for,” explained Morrow. “What we care about is that you know that you’re registered. If you feel intimidated by the process, we can give you resources so when the time comes you feel confident. It’s not my business how you vote, I just care that you exercise your right to vote.”

Andrew Goodman was a civil rights activist murdered with two other activists by members of the Ku Klux Klan in 1964. His parents created the foundation after his death in hopes that college students will carry on Goodman’s legacy by becoming activists for voting rights.

For more information on voting visit the civic engagement page on https://www.mesacc.edu/community-civic-engagement/civic-engagement and find the Voter Education tab. To register or ensure you are registered to vote, visit https://voter.azsos.gov/VoterView/RegistrantSearch.do, which is also available on the Voter Education tab.

Christina Mills is a journalism student at Mesa Community College.

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Stories written by Mesa Community College journalism students. See article for corresponding author.