In the 2019 State of Student Voting Report, LeadMN examined the voting rates of Minnesota's community colleges, state universities, and private universities for the past three elections. Understanding the current state of youth voting and identifying areas for improvement to continue the trend of leading the country in student voting participation.
Minnesota set nationwide records in 2018 for the number of young voters participating in the midterm elections. This youth wave nearly doubled the turnout from the 2014 election, bringing Minnesota to 43.7% youth voter turnout, outpacing the turnout increase from the general electorate from 2014-2018.
We are proud of all campuses for their improved turnout, but there were a few who stood out. Normandale Community College had the highest turnout for two-year community and technical college, with 54.8% of students voting. The University of Minnesota - Twin Cities topped the public university turnout with a 58.7% voter turnout rate. The campus with the most improved turnout was Minneapolis College, hitting 52.8% voter turnout.
While these are very impressive numbers, there is still more that can be done leading up to the 2020 election. There must be more targeted efforts to create a civic culture in our state. In order to close the gap, colleges can step up their efforts by encouraging participation in campus-wide registration drives and providing locations for early voting while explaining that process.
In order to build a strong civic culture, we need to grow voters through translating their voices into the voting process and form the habit of voting election after election. It has become clear that encouraging college students to vote now is critical to the future of our democracy. More active engagement is the only way that higher education institutions can do more to protect the tree of democracy.