Ohio State students participated in record numbers in 2020 election
New report showcases large increase in student voter turnout
Ohio State News contributor
There’s no better way to follow The Ohio State University’s motto of “Education for Citizenship” than by casting a ballot. In 2020, a record number of Ohio State students did exactly that.
Students across all university campuses turned out in record numbers to vote in the 2020 presidential election: 75% of eligible Ohio State students cast ballots, marking an increase of 10% from the 2016 presidential election. Ohio State students voted at a significantly higher rate than students around the country; across all institutions, 66% of students voted in 2020.
This data comes from the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE), creators of the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, or NSLVE. IDHE is located at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life.
Ohio State has also earned a Gold Seal from the the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge for nonpartisan student voter participation efforts in the 2020 election.
In addition, Ohio State was recognized as a “Voter Friendly Campus” for 2020-2021. This distinction is managed by the nonpartisan Campus Votes Project and NASPA – Student Affairs Educators in Higher Education. Ohio State is one of only 83 schools in the nation to earn this distinction.
Ohio State competes in the Big Ten Voting Challenge every presidential election cycle. The Big Ten awards schools with the highest eligible voter turnout rate and with the most improved voter turnout from the 2016 presidential election. The winner of the 2020 challenge is set to be announced soon.
The Office of Student Life’s OSU Votes is a student-led movement to register, educate and encourage other students to vote. This nonpartisan group fosters civic engagement while providing students with the necessary information and materials needed to vote in every local, state and federal election and was integral in supporting this high voter turnout during a pandemic.
“Getting the 2020 election turnout results back was deeply validating; it confirmed that the work students have been doing to politically mobilize other students did not go unnoticed and that, despite COVID-19 barriers, young people were undeterred in making their voices heard through voting,” said Jillian Finkel, co-president of OSU Votes.
OSU Votes offered over 70 workshops to students in 2020, with information ranging from how to register to vote and update a student’s voter address to facilitating discussions around the importance of being an informed voter. OSU Votes continues to offer workshops at no charge upon request.
OSU Votes also organized no-contact voter drop boxes around campus. Students could submit voter registration forms, absentee ballot requests and completed absentee ballots at the drop boxes located at the Ohio Union, Hale Hall and residence halls. The no-contact drop boxes ensured students adhered to safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic while remaining civically engaged.
For the students who wished to vote in person, the group partnered with the Campus Area Bus Service (CABS) to provide free transportation for students to Franklin County’s early voting site. On Election Day, OSU Votes helped students check their polling location and printed students’ statements of account from the university, which is an acceptable form of voter identification.
“These turnout results are a testament to the unmistakable voting power of young people and the vital importance of promoting civic engagement as education for citizenship,” said OSU Votes co-president Joey Derrico. “Our work is never done, and we will continue to strive to equip students with the appropriate resources to be agents of change in their communities.”
With the 2022 midterms next on the horizon, OSU Votes is already preparing to help students to remain civically engaged.