TU Student Voter Turnout Reaches High Mark

This article was originally published by Towson University on September 24, 2019.

In 2018, midterm voter turnout reached a modern high. And according to the Pew Research Center, for the first time in history, younger generations (Generation Z, Millennials and Generation X) accounted for the majority of voters.

Towson University’s student population did its part in shifting the majority. According to the National Study of Learning, Voting and Environment (NSLVE), 42.2% of TU students voted in the 2018 midterm elections.

NSLVE is a free and voluntary resource for over 1,000 campuses, including Towson University, that objectively examines student and institution-level data on student voting.

According to the NSLVE, TU’s student voting rate was above the voting rate for all institutions (39.1%), and doubled in growth from the 2014 midterm election (20.7%). Towson University also has 85.6% of its student population registered to vote through events like those that happen on National Voter Registration Day, which falls on September 24 this year.

“It was exciting to see students being part of democratic process by helping students register to vote, participating in dialogues around the issues and standing in line in the Union for hours to cast their vote,” says Christopher Jensen, director of Towson University’s Office of Civic Engagement & Social Responsibility.

For the Office of Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility, turning registered students into informed voters is the endgame. And despite young people increasingly becoming the largest population eligible to vote, older populations continue to turn out to the ballots in large percentages, especially during midterm and local elections.

This is why TU’s staff feel it’s incredibly important to help close the gap that exists between those who are registered, and those who actually turn out to vote.

“As we get closer to the 2020 election season, the latest NSLVE report not only serves as a great resource and motivator, but it also reminds us that the work is far from over to continue institutionalizing democratic engagement at Towson University,” says Luis Sierra, assistant director for Civic Engagement.

“We look forward to the months ahead, as we strive to empower and support all our students, faculty and staff to exercise their invaluable right to vote.”

The Office of Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility, along with other organizations around campus, have provided several different events and programs to promote voter registration.

  • Year-round Voter Registration drives and political learning/discourse opportunities (i.e. New York Times Talks, Campus Conversations).
  • Celebration of National Voter Registration Day every year, with all-day registration stations powered by students, faculty and staff.
  • Collaborations and partnerships among various campus units, student organizations, and class projects.
  • The first ever TU Votes Student Organization Challenge in 2018, encouraging student organizations on campus to get the most TurboVote signups between National Voter Registration Day and the Maryland voter registration deadline.
  • Meeting visits and workshops with several student organizations and groups on campus, to share the importance of the election, how to use TurboVote to register, and some of the top ways to get educated about candidates and issues.

In addition, student leadership has been at the core of the TU Votes movement, starting with TU’s Vote Everywhere Ambassadors, Sophie Bertrand & Jonathan Townes.

Towson University is proud to be one of the campuses in partnership with the Andrew Goodman Foundation, which provides training, resources and connections to ambassadors across the country, so that they can lead the way in mobilizing student voters across their campuses.

TU’s Vote Everywhere ambassadors also help to coordinate every voter registration drive. They also work with various student organizations and campus units and provide them with information and resources.

“Through the TU Votes initiative, Towson University is showing its commitment to preparing graduates who will serve as effective, ethical leaders and engaged citizens,” Jensen says. “From classroom discussions to student organizations meetings, and everything in between, the TU community continues to show that civic engagement is at the core of who we are.”

Getting to registered to vote on Towson University’s campus is as easy as ever. Students can be a part of the TU Votes Initiative in several ways:

  1. GET REGISTERED:Sign up on TurboVote! Whether students are already registered to vote, are looking to verify/change their registration, or need to register to vote in general, TU’s TurboVoteplatform makes it easy to be ready, with election reminders, the ability to receive absentee ballot forms, and connections to every state’s voter registration portals. 
  2. SPREAD THE WORD: Whether doing so individually or as a student organization, TU asks students to spread the wordacross their in-person and social media circles, especially on National Voter Registration Day.Using hashtags #TUVotes

    and #NationalVoterRegistrationDay, along with the link TUVotes, students can share the reasons they vote. 

  3. GET INVOLVED: TUVotes is not only a voter registration and engagement portal, it is also where students can sign up to get involved with the initiative. Fill out the TU Votes Involvement form on the page, and a TU staff member and the Vote Everywhere Ambassadors will be sure to get back in touch with next steps.In addition,

    Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility will soon be recruiting for a Vote Everywhere Ambassador to start during the 2020-2021 academic year.

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland.