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More NKU Students Voted in 2020 Election Compared to 2016


Nov. 5, 2021 —  Northern Kentucky University students voted in record numbers for the 2020 presidential election, according to a new report by the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE). Student voting on campus increased in the 2020 election, rising to 67.5% from a rate of 61.1% in 2016.

The IDHE report also showed an increase in voter registration between 2016 and 2020. In 2016, NKU had a voter registration rate (percentage of voter-eligible students who registered to vote) of 83.4%. In 2020, that rate jumped to 88.2%. Additionally, the voting rate of eligible voters (the percentage of registered voters who voted) jumped from 75.7% to 76.6%.

This comes as the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement put forth initiatives to drive up voter registration in 2020, including ongoing voter registration efforts on campus, creating “I Count Because I Vote” facemasks, hosting forums to discuss voting and public affairs, as well as hosting a website with voter information.

“We are happy to see these results,” Mark Neikirk, executive director of the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement, said. “They reflect a campus-wide commitment to teaching students the importance of participating in the democratic process. This isn’t something we do once and move on. It is a continuous effort and involves teamwork by faculty, staff and students.”

The Institute for Democracy & Higher Education created the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement and is located at Tufts University.

Nationwide, the study’s authors report a record-breaking set of findings. On campuses across the country, students built on the momentum swing of 2018 and voted at high rates in the 2020 election, with voter turnout jumping to 66% in the 2020 presidential election. The 14-percentage point increase, from 52% turnout in the 2016 election, outpaces that of all Americans, which jumped 6 percentage points from 61% to 67%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The 2020 dataset is robust with over 8.8 million voting-eligible students representing 1,051 colleges and universities.

“That students, often younger and first-time voters, turned out at rates commensurate with the general public is nothing short of stunning,” IDHE Director Nancy Thomas said. “We attribute this high level of participation to many factors, including student activism on issues such as racial injustice, global climate change and voter suppression, as well as increased efforts by educators to reach students and connect them to the issues and to voting resources.”

NKU’s Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement builds connections between campus and community, with an emphasis on developing stewardship and citizenship. It works to create an ecosystem of engagement, in which opportunities and experiences are not isolated but part of a learning environment that unites the classroom and the real world.

To learn more about NKU’s Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement and to get involved in the voting process, click here.

About IDHE’s National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement: NSLVE (pronounced n-solve) is the nation’s largest study of college and university student voting. Institutions must opt-in to the study, and 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. IDHE uses de-identified student records to ensure student privacy.

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About NKU: Founded in 1968, NKU is an entrepreneurial state university of over 16,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus nestled between Highland Heights, Kentucky and bustling downtown Cincinnati. We are a regionally engaged university committed to empowering our students to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. While we are one of the fastest-growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit