The Rise in Voting Participation

By Samantha Smith

Jambar Contributor

More young adults and college students are voting in elections in recent years, including the students of Youngstown State University.

According to the 2019 National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement Report, from 2014 to 2018, the percentage of YSU students registering to vote stayed about the same, while the rate of students voting nearly doubled from 20.7% to 41%.

A 2019 report by the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, stated the increase in voter turnout is happening nationwide. A majority of college campuses are seeing an increase from 2014.

Erin Driscoll, executive director of student experience and residence life at YSU, said information from the study proves students are voting more.

“There was definitely a really large jump,” she said. “I think [the 2016 presidential election] got more young adults really awake to the fact we need to plug in and we need to be involved in our community.”

This doesn’t mean students are voting in every election, though. Tom McCabe, deputy director of the Mahoning County Board of Elections, said younger adults are still part of the group behind on voting compared to older age groups.

“If you look at the demographics, even though it has gotten a lot better, it’s still that one demographic that lags behind all the rest when it comes to percentage of young people voting compared to other demographics when it comes to age,” he said.

While there has been an increase in numbers of students voting, the majority still do not. 

Carson Markley, a YSU senior double majoring in political science and economics, said some students may not know where to vote, voting may not have been a priority in their families and time constraints may be an issue. 

“College kids have a lot of time they spend studying and working on all their classes and clubs and internships and all that stuff, and then they don’t have to go vote,” he said.

Caroline Smith, president of YSU’s Student Government Association, said she believes social media has affected the increase in YSU students voting.

Smith believes YSU can help prompt students to vote through being a better community partner and providing information on candidates.

“Although we are nonpartisan, I think it is important for us to work with other community organizations that are getting out the vote, that are getting people to vote,” she said.

Ohio’s primary is March 17 for those who are registered, while Pennsylvania’s primary is April 28. The deadline to register to vote in Ohio’s primary was Feb. 18. The deadline for residents of Pennsylvania to register to vote in the primary is April 13.

The general election is Nov. 3.