Almost 71% of Harvard University students eligible to vote voted in the 2020 election, a jump of about 9 percentage points from the previous presidential election cycle, according to data released last week by the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement.
NSLVE is a data program run by the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tufts University that helps colleges and universities compile student enrollment and voting rates to better understand student habits. student vote.
According to its 2020 National Report, Harvard University recorded an overall eligible student turnout of 70.6% in the 2020 election and an eligible enrollment rate of 83.4%. Harvard’s overall student participation rate – which was five percentage points higher than the national student average – represents a 9.3% increase from 2016 and a 19.1% increase from 2018.
Harvard students who worked to increase student turnout in the 2020 election celebrated the study’s results.
Founded in 2018, Harvard Votes Challenge is a student and academic initiative co-led by Harvard Kennedy School and the Institute of Politics. HVC aims to expand voter registration, participation, and civic engagement among undergraduates.
HVC Co-Chair Alexander K. Park ’23 said HVC uses a student-centered outreach model to promote voter turnout on campus. Park highlighted his own experience working with groups of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders at Harvard.
“The encouragement from the president of, say, the Asian American Association, is much more powerful than a random person texting you to vote in the 2020 election,” Park said.
He added that the unintended positive consequence of Covid-19 is that it allows students to take the initiative to navigate the voting process.
“If there is one bright side to some kind of pandemic, it’s that many students have gained experience voting under difficult conditions,” Park said.
Kevin L. Ballen ’22, former HVC co-chair and current vice-chair of the Institute of Politics, said the IOP specifically tried to promote civic engagement among affinity groups in 2020.
“We worked a lot with cultural affinity groups throughout the 2020 election, building a variety of different coalitions and really investing in the leadership of these different organizations,” Ballen said.
According to the National Student Data Report, in 2020 voter turnout increased 17% among Asian students, 15% among black students, and 13% among Hispanic students, compared to 2016 data.
Ballen said he believes colleges can play an important role in strengthening civic engagement. “We are in coalition with our Ivy League peers and with our Boston area peers, so this broadly shows a national movement towards colleges that really prioritize civic engagement and voting.”
Ballen said the study confirms that students are a powerful electoral bloc in the electorate.
“Now it’s time to engage and take us into account when you make decisions or when you participate in your campaigns because we are going to go to the polls and our generation is going to have an increasing influence every year. ,” he said.
HVC Co-Chair Lily Richman ’24 said that despite the high turnout among Harvard students in the last election cycle, she believes there is still room for growth.
“We want to reach the final twenty-nine percent and we want to make sure that every student who is eligible to vote participates and votes,” said Richman.