70% of Minnesota Students Voted in 2020
A record number of students voted in the 2020 election according to data released this year by the National Study for Learning, Voting, and Engagement out of Tufts University. The 70% college student turnout was an 8-point increase in student voter turnout in Minnesota from the 2016 election. In fact, Minnesota students voted at a higher rate than the general electorate of 30 states. LeadMN developed the State of Student Voting Report which dove into those numbers across the state.
2020 Democracy Cup
In partnership with the Minnesota Secretary of State and student associations, LeadMN awarded four Democracy Cups to institutions that had the highest voting rates in 2020. The voting rates were determined by the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement from Tufts University, which matches campus enrollment records with voting records. The award celebration featured student leaders from different types of institutions talking about the best ways to engage students.
Ask Every Student to be Civically Engaged
One of the reasons that student voting was so high in 2020 in Minnesota is because of a powerful concept called Ask Every Student. The idea is simple: have a brief 1 to 1 conversation with every student to identify their reasons for voting and support them through the process of registering to vote and casting a ballot.
The Ask Every Student framework leverages a human-centered social design process. Each campus will identify ways to integrate voter registration into existing processes to equitably reach every student. This past year LeadMN partnered with Rock the Vote to build an online voter registration tool that colleges and universities can embed on campus websites to more easily integrate voter registration into existing campus processes like registering for class.
This tool is designed to be mobile-friendly; the platform undergoes regular usability testing to increase completion rates. The tool also tracks whether a user has submitted their registration in real-time—which state websites don’t offer—providing an instant feedback loop for partners to understand the effectiveness of their registration efforts.
To support the integration of this tool into colleges and universities, we are working with the system office and Students United to launch a Minnesota State new policy that is designed to create clear expectations of campuses’ role in supporting students to register to vote. Institutions are required to ask every student to register to vote through an online voter registration website, provide information to students living in dorms and first year orientation classes with voting information, identify a campus vote coordinator, and report how many students they register to vote. These changes will help create minimum expectations for colleges and universities on how they can best support students to be engaged “citizens.”
50th Anniversary of the Passage of the 26th Amendment
In March of 2020, LeadMN celebrated the 50th anniversary of Minnesota being the first state to ratify the 26th amendment. We partnered with the YMCA, Center for Youth Voice, to host a conversation reflecting on progress we have made in helping young people to be civically engaged and what can we do in the future to build on this progress.