Students contribute to high midterm voter turnout numbers

Midterm voter results reflected a significant increase in student turnout compared to 2014.

Election Judge Helen Torrens helps a voter through a window at the Van Cleve Park polling place on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Tony Saunders

Election Judge Helen Torrens helps a voter through a window at the Van Cleve Park polling place on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Isabella Murray

Last week’s midterm election saw a surge in voter turnout throughout Minneapolis, including several student-dense areas. 

While student turnout proved to be less than city averages, student precincts showed higher turnout rates than the 2014 midterm election. Experts say while student voter turnout is historically low, the 2016 presidential election mobilized student populations. 

“I’ve heard a lot of discouraging comments about students, and it turns out — in 2018 — that’s unfair. Students are watching, they care and they turned out,” said Larry Jacobs, director of the University’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. 

In Minneapolis, registered voter turnout was more than 67 percent, compared to around 55 percent in 2014. Student precincts also experienced significant increases.  

Superblock voted in precinct 2-10. In 2014, registered voter turnout in this precinct was 32 percent, while it was 56 percent this election.

Dinkytown, where students voted in precincts Ward 3-1 and 3-2, saw 42 and 45 percent of voters turn out in 2014, while 60 and 71 percent turned out out this election, respectively.  

Como voted in precincts 2-3 and 1-7. In 2014, registered voter turnout was 44 and 45 respectively, while it was 67 and 70 percent in the respective precincts this election.

“The higher turnout around younger people will turn out to be an important and surprising development of 2018,” Jacobs said. 

Students voting in all University-area precincts leaned overwhelmingly democratic. 

Over 70 percent of votes went to elected DFL candidates Amy Klobuchar, Tina Smith, Tim Walz, Ilhan Omar and Mohamud Noor in these precincts. 

“People always say it’s tough to get students to vote, and while it may at times be difficult to get students to vote, 20 of them can change the whole frickin’ world through their passion and organizing, and next thing you know, you’ve got a blue wave coming,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said at the DFL’s election night party.

Preliminary estimates indicate that around 64 percent of voters statewide turned out, either in-person or by absentee ballot voting. 

“That is the highest percentage of voter participation in Minnesota for a midterm election since 2002 and the largest raw total for a midterm election in Minnesota history,” Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said in a press release. 

Students also door knocked, attended campus political groups’ meetings and registered to vote in higher numbers than past years. 

Jacobs said that lawmakers should take notice of the increased student engagement.

“After all, if students help to vote you in, they can also help to vote you out,” he said.