Election turnout on the rise

Voter turnout for student gov’t elections has steadily climbed over the past decade.

Ethan Nelson

Almost a fifth of University of Minnesota undergraduate students voted in last week’s Minnesota Student Association presidential election — nearly double the turnout of 10 years ago.


And though the number of students who voted in this year’s election is much greater than the about 3.3 percent who voted in 2009, turnout still barely touches 20 percent even in the most participatory years.
The 19.4 percent voter turnout reflects more than 6,300 votes out of the nearly 29,000 undergraduates on the Twin Cities campus, according to the Office of Institutional Research. 
Voter turnout in MSA elections has been slowly climbing over the past 10 years, except for a sharp decline between 2008 and 2009.
Turnout for the now-defunct Graduate and Professional Student Assembly never reached more than 12 percent, though it had been climbing slowly since 2007.


Other Big 10 schools have reported similarly low numbers. Around 11 percent of students voted in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s latest undergraduate election. The University of Michigan saw 20 percent of its entire student body turn out for its election earlier this year.
In comparison, 54.87 percent of the voting population showed up to the polls for the most recent U.S. presidential elections, according to University of California Santa Barbara data. That number hasn’t cracked 60 percent since 1968’s election between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey.