CMU student voting participation jumped during 2020 election

68.1% of eligible students voted, eclipsing national average

| Author: Logan Pellegrom

Central Michigan University students turned out in record numbers during the 2020 election.

According to a newly released study by the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University, 68.1% of eligible CMU students voted in the 2020 election, beating the 66% national average for all institutions. That is a 54.1%, or 23.9 percentage point, increase in participation compared to the 2016 election, which saw 44.2% of students vote.

CMU also notched impressive personal bests in voter registration rate of eligible students, 89% in 2020 compared to 74% in 2016; and voting rate of registered students, 76.5% in 2020 compared to 59.7% in 2016.

2020 NSLVE Report voting statistics

Data from the 2020 NSLVE Campus Report by the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education.


Voter participation for the 2020 presidential election was up nationally overall, but the nearly 55% increase at CMU far exceeded expectations.

"Our goal was to register as many students as possible and provide them with educational resources," said Ryan Coker, a CMU senior and president of the Central Votes registered student organization.

Central Votes RSO and other organizations including Central Civics and the Central Votes Coalition have led the grassroots effort on campus for several years and focus on all elections. Efforts include an annual "Fire Up the Vote" event, hosting a  mobile Secretary of State office, handing out informational pamphlets in campus buildings and speaking with student organizations.

Coker and all of the organizations involved hope to continue to momentum from 2020 into all future elections, including midterm and local elections.

"Everyone has their reason to vote, but we are all impacted by every election," Coker said. "We're focused on empowering students to make their voices heard."

About the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement
IDHE's National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement is the nation's largest study of college and university student voting. At this time, nearly 1,200 campuses of all types — community colleges, research universities, minority-serving and women's colleges, state universities, and private institutions — participate. The dataset reflects all 50 states and the District of Columbia and includes 49 of the nation's 50 flagship schools.
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