New Report Shows That Expanding Early Voting Sites to College and University Campuses in Florida Substantially Increased Youth Voter Turnout in the 2018 Election

Today, The Andrew Goodman Foundation (AGF) released a report on the impact of expanding early voting sites to college and university campuses in Florida during the 2018 General Election. The report, On-Campus Early In-Person Voting in Florida in the 2018 General Election, demonstrates that providing polling places on college and university campuses substantially increases youth voter turnout, which historically lags behind other age groups. The report was authored by Daniel A. Smith, Ph.D., Professor, and Chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Florida and President of ElectionSmith, Inc., with research and technical assistance provided by Enrijeta Shino, Ph.D., AGF Vote Everywhere Ambassador Jenna Tingum and AGF Puffin Democracy Fellow Megan Newsome. 

The key findings are:

  • Overall turnout in Florida, especially of young registrants, increased in 2018 due to the added convenience of on-campus early voting.
  • Nearly 60,000 registered voters in 9 Florida counties cast early in-person ballots at 12 on-campus voting locations in the 2018 General Election.
  • 56% of the total on-campus early in-person ballots were cast by voters aged 18-29 years old.
  • Hispanic and Black voters disproportionately cast ballots at the 12 on-campus early voting locations.
  • Young voters, as well as people of color, and those who did not cast a ballot in 2016, disproportionately voted at the on-campus polling locations at public and private universities and colleges. 

“I thank Professor Smith for the hard work that he and Professor Shino put into this report, along with our Vote Everywhere Ambassador Jenna Tingum and Puffin Democracy Fellow Megan Newsome. Their efforts show the meaningful public policy progress our campus leaders are making,” stated David Goodman, President of The Andrew Goodman Foundation. “This report demonstrates that young people—especially Hispanic and Black voters—are enthusiastic about civic participation and voting when the process is accessible and fair. Students face numerous barriers such as a lack of access to transportation or balancing busy school and work schedules, which make it more difficult for them to vote at off-campus polling locations. Moreover, it is even more challenging for disabled and economically disadvantaged students. Voting is a fundamental right and it should be accessible for all Americans including students. Democracy works best when everyone has a voice.” 

“College campuses are often some of the most densely populated areas in a state, so why wouldn’t local officials want to place polling locations on campuses? Just as older voters in Florida are easier to mobilize to the polls when an early voting location is placed in their retirement community, younger voters are more likely to turn out to vote when there’s more opportunity,” stated report author Professor Daniel A. Smith. “Our report shows strong evidence that there is no lack of youth voter enthusiasm. Elections officials should be in the business of lowering the barriers to voter turnout. That’s why so many states have expanded convenience voting, such as no-excuse vote-by-mail and early in-person voting locations.” 

The new report comes two months after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a sweeping voter suppression law that restricts on-campus voting, threatening 2018’s record turnout. The Andrew Goodman Foundation, along with a group of eight Florida college students, and the Florida League of Women Voters amended its existing lawsuit to also challenge Florida’s new election law. The new law includes a parking requirement specifically aimed at limiting the ability to use university and college campuses as early voting sites, effectively preventing young Floridians from exercising their constitutional right to vote. The lawsuit argues that the law is intentionally designed to limit youth voting thereby violating the Equal Protection Clause and the Twenty-Sixth Amendment of the Constitution. 

About The Andrew Goodman Foundation 

The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s mission is to make young voices and votes a powerful force in democracy by training young leaders, engaging low-propensity voters, and challenging restrictive voter suppression laws. The Foundation’s Vote Everywhere program partners with America’s colleges and universities to provide resources, visibility, and mentoring to a national network of student leaders who involve their peers in participatory democracy through long-term voter engagement, public policy, and social justice initiatives. The organization is named after Andrew Goodman, a Freedom Summer volunteer and champion of equality and voting rights who was murdered by the KKK in 1964 at 20 years old while registering African Americans to vote in Mississippi.